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Israel honors dead Chinese envoy, as his body begins the journey home

Military police hand over remains of Ambassador Du Wei to Chinese authorities at Ben Gurion Airport

Chinese and Israeli officials pay their respect in front of the flag-draped coffin of Chinese Ambassador Du Wei, who died at his home in the coastal city of Herzliya, during a ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. China sent a team to Israel to repatriate the body of its ambassador. (Photo by Jack Guez/Pool via AP)
Chinese and Israeli officials pay their respect in front of the flag-draped coffin of Chinese Ambassador Du Wei, who died at his home in the coastal city of Herzliya, during a ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. China sent a team to Israel to repatriate the body of its ambassador. (Photo by Jack Guez/Pool via AP)

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.

Then-Chinese ambassador to Ukraine Du Wei, left, speaks at a ceremonial reception to mark the upcoming 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in Kiev, Ukraine, on September 24, 2019 (Sergey Starostenko/Xinhua via AP)

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 Ashkenazi, 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.”

Mask-clad Israelis military police and officials stand near the flag-draped coffin of Chinese Ambassador Du Wei, who died at his home in the coastal city of Herzliya, as it rests on a platform during a ceremony at Ben-Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, May 20, 2020. (Jack Guez/Pool via AP)

China had reportedly considered sending a team to investigate the death, but did not do so.

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