Israel honours dead Chinese envoy ahead of repatriation

Tel Aviv (AFP) –


The body of China's ambassador to Israel, who died earlier this week, was handed to Chinese authorities in a ceremony at Israel's Ben Gurion international airport on Wednesday.

Soldiers from Israel's military police, wearing surgical masks, white peak hats and armbands over their olive green uniforms carried the ambassador's wooden coffin, covered by the red and yellow Chinese flag, an AFP correspondent reported.

The coffin was placed on a black altar surrounded by white wreaths of flowers ahead of the body's repatriation to China.

Ambassador Du Wei was 57 when he was found dead at his home in Herzliya, north of Tel Aviv, on Sunday.

The Chinese foreign ministry said that "health reasons" were the presumed cause of Du's death, and Israeli police had not conducted a criminal investigation into the incident.

Du had taken his post in Israel in February, with part of his duties including advancing cooperation in high-tech and other sectors.

Israel's new Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazy, who took charge of the ministry the day after Du's death, expressed his "sincere condolences" and offered his "deepest sympathies" to the ambassador's family over his "sudden and tragic passing".