In a shocking incident, hundreds of individuals stormed the main airport in Russia's Dagestan region, Makhachkala, on Sunday, causing chaos and spreading fear. Reports from Russian news agencies and social media indicate that the crowd chanted anti-Semitic slogans while seeking passengers arriving on a flight from Tel Aviv, Israel.
The crowd surrounded an airliner, belonging to Russian carrier Red Wings, which had just arrived from Tel Aviv. This alarming situation prompted authorities to close the airport, and a heavy police presence quickly converged on the facility to restore order. The Ministry of Health for Dagestan reported that more than 20 people were injured during the confrontation, with two individuals in critical condition. Among the injured were police officers and civilians.
Video footage circulating on social media depicted some members of the unruly crowd waving Palestinian flags, while others attempted to overturn a police car. Anti-Semitic slogans were audibly shouted, and some in the crowd appeared to examine the passports of arriving passengers, seemingly in an attempt to identify those who were Israeli.
The Israeli Prime Minister's office responded promptly, issuing a statement expressing their expectation for Russian law enforcement authorities to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews. The Israeli ambassador to Russia is also reported to be working closely with Russian authorities to ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews in the region.
Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs for the North Caucasian Federal District, where Dagestan is situated, announced that CCTV footage would be utilized to identify and bring to justice those responsible for the airport disturbance.
Amidst the chaos and anti-Semitic sentiments, the regional Dagestani government voiced support for Palestinians in Gaza but appealed to its citizens to remain calm and refrain from participating in such protests. Their official statement on Telegram read, "We urge residents of the republic not to succumb to the provocations of destructive groups and not to create panic in society."
The Supreme Mufti of Dagestan, Sheikh Akhmad Afandi, called for a more peaceful approach to addressing the issue, stating in a video message, "You are mistaken. This issue cannot be resolved in this way. We understand and perceive your indignation very painfully... We will solve this issue differently. Not with rallies, but appropriately. Maximum patience and calm for you."
Dagestan's Governor, Sergei Melikov, promised consequences for those who participated in the violence, emphasizing the gravity of the incident and stating, "The actions of those who gathered at the Makhachkala airport today are a gross violation of the law! What happened at our airport is outrageous and should receive an appropriate assessment from law enforcement agencies!"
Following the intervention and security efforts, Russia's civilian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, reported that the airfield had been cleared. However, the airport would remain closed to incoming aircraft until November 6, causing disruptions to air travel in the region.