Tel Aviv —- China’s Ambassador to Israel, Du Wei, was found dead inside his official residence Sunday morning, a spokeswoman for Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs told CNN. At this stage, the 57-year-old’s death is not being treated as suspicious.
The official said Israeli police had launched an investigation but initial findings suggested no foul play.
Mr Du, 57, was appointed ambassador in February having previously served as envoy to Ukraine.
The ambassador was married and had a son but his family had still to join him in Israel.
He was living in Herzliya, some 10km north of Tel Aviv.
Police are outside the ambassador’s residence in Herzliya — to the north of Tel Aviv — as part of standard procedure, the spokeswoman said.
His death comes less than a week after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Jerusalem, openly criticising China’s actions during the coronavirus pandemic, as well as calling on Israeli leaders to stop signing major infrastructure and communications deals with Chinese companies.
There has been no comment on the ambassador’s death from the Chinese embassy in Israel or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing.
Ambassador Du assumed his current role in Israel in February 2020, according to the embassy’s webpage, as the coronavirus pandemic was sweeping across the globe.He wrote in an article in the Jerusalem Post in mid-March that he immediately had to enter two weeks of mandatory self-quarantine on his arrival.
When he arrived in Israel on 15 February, Mr Du had immediately to self-isolate for two weeks because of coronavirus restrictions.
In an interview with Israeli newspaper Makor Rishon last month, Mr Du said China was being made the world’s scapegoat.
“In history, more than once, a certain group of people was accused of spreading pandemics,” he said.
“That is despicable and should be condemned. The disease is an enemy of the entire humankind and the world should fight it together.”
On Friday, his embassy made a scathing attack on US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who had criticised China’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic on a visit to Israel.
In a response published in the Jerusalem Post, the embassy condemned Mr Pompeo’s “absurd comments”, denying that China had ever covered up the crisis.