Chinese Ambassador to Israel Du Wei was found dead in his Herzliya home on Sunday morning, a Foreign Ministry official said. Police were investigating at his home.
The Chinese Embassy said it could not confirm the reports.
There were no signs of violence, leading investigators to believe that Wei died from a heart attack, Army Radio reported. Other sources close to the investigation claim he died of cardiac arrest.
Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem expressed his condolences to Chinese Deputy Ambassador to Israel Dai Yuming. The Foreign Ministry would help in any way necessary, he said.
Wei, 57, was a husband and father to a son. His family is not in the country with him. He arrived in Israel in February to assume the position of ambassador, having served as Chinese ambassador to Ukraine before that.
Wei’s death comes one week after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visited Israel in what seemed to be an attempt to convince the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to limit Chinese investments in Israel.
Chinese Embassy in Israel spokesperson Wang Yongjun wrote an op-ed in The Jerusalem Post on Friday about the resilience of the Chinese and Israelis, calling Pompeo’s claims and comments “absurd.”
“Historical experience also shows that pandemic is accompanied by conspiracies and the dark mentality of seeking scapegoats,” Yongjun wrote. “Jewish friends know it well.”
“China-Israel cooperation is win-win in nature, and the projects are market activities based on supply and demand. In the hi-tech area, our cooperation opened the largest market in the world to Israel’s innovation achievement, and in the infrastructure fields, Chinese companies bring cost-effective labors that are much needed by Israel’s construction endeavour and provide a large number of job opportunities,” he wrote. “Above is the response of the Embassy towards Mr Pompeo’s comments on China. We trust that the Jewish friends are not only able to defeat the coronavirus but also the ‘political virus’ and choose the course of action that best serves their interests.”
Former foreign minister Israel Katz tweeted that he was “shocked to hear tragic news related to the sudden death of H.E. Du Wei... Ambassador Du was a distinguished career diplomat and during his short time in Israel had already contributed to the bilateral relations between the countries.”
Katz conveyed his condolences to the Chinese Foreign Ministry on behalf of Israel.