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HomenewsAngry crowd storms Russia’s Dagestan airport to protest flight from Israel

Angry crowd storms Russia’s Dagestan airport to protest flight from Israel

Hundreds of people have stormed the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region, ostensibly to protest against the arrival of a flight from Israel amid the war in Gaza.

The crowd on Sunday broke past security, with some making it onto the runway of Makhachkala airport, before they were removed by security forces.

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“More than 150 active participants in the unrest have been identified, 60 of them have been arrested,” Russia’s interior ministry said in a statement. Nine police officers were injured in clashes with the crowd, including two who were receiving treatment at a hospital.

Local news reports said the airliner in question belonged to Russian carrier Red Wings.

Social media footage showed scared passengers rushing to re-enter the plane amid commotion on the runway of Makhachkala airport.

Videos also showed the protesting crowd breaking down glass doors and running through the airport, with some chanting anti-Jewish slogans. On the landing field, some were seen waving Palestinian flags and others checking the passports of arriving passengers.

Several local Telegram channels also showed photos and videos of dozens of people waiting outside the airport seemingly to stop cars. Another group were seen trying to topple over a patrol truck. One protester could be seen in the videos holding a sign reading: “Child killers have no place in Dagestan”.

The incident comes as Israel pushes forward with expanded ground operations inside the Gaza Strip, even as heavy aerial bombardment continues. Officials in Gaza say more than 8,000 Palestinians, including 3,324 children, have been killed since the war began on October 7, when Hamas, the group running the besieged enclave launched a surprise attack inside Israel. At least 1,400 Israelis and foreign nationals have been killed in the Hamas attack, according to Israeli officials.

In a statement released on Sunday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that Israel “expects the Russian law enforcement authorities to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they may be and to act resolutely against the rioters and against the wild incitement directed against Jews and Israelis”.

Earlier on Sunday, the RIA Novosti news agency reported that a Jewish centre in the city of Nalchik, in the nearby republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, had been set on fire.

Several Israeli media outlets reported, citing Israeli security officials, that the Israeli passengers were isolated and guarded at Makhachkala airport after the incident in Dagestan. According to the reports, the plan was to fly them directly on to Moscow.

Appeals for calm

Russia’s civilian aviation agency, Rosaviatsia, reported late on Sunday that the airfield had been cleared of unauthorised people but that the airport would tentatively remain closed to incoming aircraft until November 6.

While voicing support for Gaza, the regional government in Muslim-majority Dagestan appealed to citizens to remain calm and not take part in such protests.

The government warned the protesters on Telegram “not to continue illegal acts and not to interfere with the work of airport employees”.

The statement added: “It is not easy for each of us to stand and watch the inhumane massacre of a civilian population – the Palestinian people. At the same time, we urge residents of the republic not to succumb to provocations of destructive groups and not to create panic in society.”

The Supreme Mufti of Dagestan, Sheikh Akhmad Afandi, had also called on residents to stop the unrest at the airport.

“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,” he said in a video published on Telegram.

Adrienne Watson, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, condemned the incident and said the United States “unequivocally stands with the entire Jewish community as we witness a worldwide surge in antisemitism”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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