In Dagestan, at least sixty people were arrested last night for attacking Israelis at an airport, according to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti. Ninety others are still being sought.
Israel has summoned the Russian ambassador for… violence in the autonomous republic. Prime Minister Netanyahu said in a statement that he assumes that Russian authorities will protect Jews and Israelis and “take decisive action against the rioters and counter wild stories.”
The Russian aviation authority decided this morning that flights from Tel Aviv will be temporarily diverted to another airport. This applies both to the capital Makhachkala where the storming took place and to Mineralnye Vody elsewhere in the Caucasus.
An angry mob stormed Makhachkala airport last night, forcing open doors and gates. They surrounded a plane from Tel Aviv that had just arrived, waving Palestinian flags and chanting Islamic slogans.
Video footage shows that it was violent:
Anti-Jewish mob in Dagestan storms plane from Tel Aviv
Travelers fled back onto the plane and had to wait in fear for hours. Elsewhere at the airport, protesters stopped departing cars and checked passports to see if anyone was from Israel. Vandalism was also caused and shops looted.
At least twenty people were injured in the riot, ten of whom had to be taken to hospital. This includes both police officers and civilians, although none of the travelers from Israel were injured. Two people are in mortal danger.
Order was restored around midnight. The airport will remain closed in the coming days.
Fighting between Israel and Hamas has increased tensions in recent weeks in the North Caucasus, where many Muslims live. For example, a hotel in Makhachkala was surrounded on Saturday because of rumors that Jewish refugees would be accommodated there; Makhachkala is a regular stopover for Russian citizens evacuated from Israel.
The hotel managed to de-escalate the situation by having a delegation inspect the building. Elsewhere, a fire was set at a Jewish center under construction. There were also several demonstrations in the region against Israel.
Dagestan’s leader Sergei Melikov has called for calm. “It is cowardly when a crowd of unarmed people waits who have done nothing wrong,” he admonished last night via Telegram. The government says that peace in Gaza must be pursued in other ways. “We call on residents not to give in to provocations from malicious groups and cause panic.
The Grand Mufti of Dagestan, the most important local Muslim leader, also calls for calm. “You are wrong. It will not be solved this way,” he addressed the demonstrators in a video. “This must be resolved differently, not with demonstrations. Stay patient and calm.”
The Kremlin later in the morning accused “outsiders” of fueling the violence. Spokesman Peskov said that President Putin will hold summit talks tonight because “the West is trying to use events in the Middle East to divide society.”
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