13 October 2023

Suspect held after employee at Israeli embassy in China is stabbed

13 October 2023

A 50-year-old Israeli man who works at the Israeli embassy in Beijing is in hospital after being stabbed in front of a supermarket, Chinese police and the Israeli government said.

Beijing police said they had arrested a suspect, a 53-year-old foreign man.

They said the victim is a family member of an Israeli diplomat. No motive was given for the attack.

The Israeli government said: “The employee was transferred to hospital and he is in a stable condition.”

The incident came after Israel criticised China’s statement following the unprecedented and deadly incursion by the militant group Hamas into southern Israel last Saturday, which sparked an ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip.

Just before the announcement, Israel’s foreign ministry said Ambassador Rafi Harpaz had spoken on Thursday with the Chinese envoy for the Middle East, Zhai Jun, to express his country’s “deep disappointment” over China’s comments after the Hamas incursion.

There was “no clear and unequivocal condemnation of the terrible massacre committed by the terrorist organisation Hamas against innocent civilians and the abduction of dozens of them to Gaza,” the statement said.

“The Chinese announcements do not contain any element of Israel’s right to defend itself and its citizens, a fundamental right of any sovereign country that was attacked in an unprecedented manner and with cruelty that has no place in human society.”

An earlier Chinese statement about the phone conversation said that Beijing condemns actions that harm innocent civilians and is “deeply concerned over the escalation of tensions and violence … and saddened by the civilian casualties caused by the conflict”.

Asked about the Israeli statement, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin reiterated that China opposes acts harming citizens and violating international law.

“China will continue to work unremittingly for de-escalation of the situation and the resumption of peace talks,” he said.

In Beijing, about half-a-dozen plainclothes police were stationed outside the Israeli Embassy in addition to the normal contingent of uniformed officers. Some 1.25 miles away at the Palestinian embassy in Beijing, plainclothes officers were also on hand and one was tightening wires on a fence.

Since the war broke out, antisemitic remarks have surged on Chinese social media. Bombarded with hostile messages, the Israeli embassy in Beijing is filtering comments on its Chinese social media account.

The embassy selected a comment that said: “Support Israel! Destroy the terrorist organization!” — the remarks got 5,700 likes.

Chinese state media have blamed the United States for fanning tensions in the region.

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