MOSCOW — Hundreds of people stormed the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region and the landing strip on Sunday to protest the arrival of a plane from Tel Aviv, Israel, Russian news agencies and social media reported.
Authorities closed the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of the predominantly Muslim region, and police moved into the facility. There were no immediate reports of injuries or arrests.
According to Russian news reports, people in the crowd shouted anti-Semitic slogans and tried to storm the Russian airline Red Wings plane.
Videos on social media showed some of the crowd at the landing site waving Palestinian flags, protesters trying to overturn a police car and others checking the passports of passengers who had arrived in Makhachkala.
In a statement released Sunday evening, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that Israel “expects Russian law enforcement agencies to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they are and to take decisive action against the rioters and against the “We are engaging in wild incitement against Jews and Israelis.” Netanyahu’s office added that the Israeli ambassador to Russia is working with Russia to ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews.
The Interior Ministry of Russia’s North Caucasus Federal District, where Dagestan is located, said CCTV footage would be used to establish the identity of those who stormed the airport and that those involved would be brought to justice.
While expressing support for Gaza, the Dagestan regional government appealed to citizens to remain calm and not take part in such protests.
“We call on the residents of the republic to treat the current situation in the world with understanding. Federal authorities and international organizations are making every effort to bring about a ceasefire against the civilian population in the Gaza Strip… we call on the residents of the republic not to give in to the provocations of fighting destructive groups and not to create panic in society,” the Dagestan government wrote on Telegram.
The Supreme Mufti of Dagestan, Sheikh Achmad Afandi, called on residents to end the unrest at the airport.
“You are wrong. This problem cannot be solved this way. We understand and feel your outrage very painfully. … We will solve this problem differently. Not with rallies, but appropriately. Maximum patience and calm to you,” he said in a video posted on Telegram.
Dagestan Governor Sergei Melikov was more forceful in his criticism of the protesters and promised consequences for all those involved in storming the airport.
“The actions of those who gathered at Makhachkala airport today constitute a gross violation of the law! … what happened at our airport is outrageous and should be properly assessed by law enforcement! And that will definitely happen!” he wrote on Telegram.
He called the protests a “knife in the back of those who gave their lives for the security of the homeland,” citing the 1999 war in Dagestan and the troops currently fighting in Ukraine.
Russia’s civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia later reported that the airfield had been cleared of unauthorized persons, but that the airport would remain temporarily closed to incoming aircraft until November 6.