- Police say airport now under their full control.
- Anti-Semitic rioters stormed it on Sunday.
- Russia accuses Ukraine of stirring up trouble, Kyiv denies.
At least 60 people have been arrested after hundreds of anti-Israel protesters on Sunday, launched a demonstration at Makhachkala airport in Russia’s Dagestan region, targeting an arriving plane from Israel.
This act of protest led to the closure of the airport and required security forces to intervene and disperse the demonstrators.
Local authorities reported that twenty individuals were injured during the unrest, but the passengers on the Israeli plane remained safe.
These protests are part of a series of anti-Israel incidents that have erupted in the North Caucasus region in response to Israel’s conflict with Hamas in Gaza.
To address the situation, the Dagestani government announced its intention to enhance security measures across the republic, which is home to approximately 3 million people.
This region has a history of conflicts with Russian security forces, making the current protests a challenge for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is already dealing with a war in Ukraine and faced an attempted mutiny earlier in the year.
Videos captured at Makhachkala airport and obtained by Reuters showed protesters, primarily young men, brandishing Palestinian flags, breaking through glass doors, and running through the airport while chanting slogans like “Allahu Akbar” or “God is Greatest.” Another group of demonstrators was seen attempting to overturn a patrol truck.
In response to the situation, Russia’s Aviation Authority decided to close the airport temporarily until security checks were completed. Although no immediate arrests were reported, Russia’s federal investigations agency initiated a criminal investigation into the incident.
Sergei Melikov, the head of Dagestan, condemned the protest as a serious violation of the law, while also expressing sympathy for the victims affected by the actions of certain individuals and politicians. He underscored the importance of not resorting to mob violence against unarmed individuals who have not committed any prohibited acts.
Leaders in other regions of the North Caucasus called for calm in the wake of these protests, and the chief Muslim cleric, or mufti, of Dagestan, issued a similar plea for peace.
In response to the escalating violence against Israeli and Jewish targets, Israel urged Russian authorities to protect Israelis and Jews residing in their jurisdictions.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy attributed these events to Russia’s culture of hatred towards other nations, propagated through state television, pundits, and authorities. However, the Kremlin has not issued an immediate response to these allegations.