China’s ambassador to Israel, Du Wei, was found dead in his Herzliya home on Sunday. Given that it’s impossible to utter the word “China” these days without evoking debate or sarcasm related to the coronavirus crisis, that news competed this morning with the expected swearing-in of Israel’s new government for the top headline spots.
To be clear, initial assessments were that cardiac failure had resulted in the ambassador’s death. There were no reported signs of violence.
While little more than a blip on the daily news radar under normal circumstances, the timing of the ambassador’s death has everyone talking.
Israel-China relations are at an extremely delicate stage. While Israel has not officially joined the US in blaming China for mishandling and even covering up the initial COVID-19 outbreak, that’s what many Israelis think.
Furthermore, the Du Wei’s demise comes just two days after he publicly condemned remarks by visiting US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who warned Israel against cozying up too closely to China. (See: “The Real Reason for Pompeo’s Visit to Israel”)
Du Wei was only 57 years old. He arrived in Israel as China’s ambassador just this year, on February 15. He was unable to personally present his credentials to Israel President Reuven Rivlin due to the coronavirus restrictions that were already in place.
He is survived by his wife and their one son, neither of whom was in Israel at the time of his death.