In the region of Dagestan, which is predominantly Muslim, a group of people gathered with the intention of targeting Jewish passengers arriving from Israel at the Makhachkala airport. The situation escalated quickly as the mob stormed the airport in search of these passengers.
Over the last 24 hours, a hotel has been surrounded by locals who were specifically looking for Jewish guests. Additionally, the airport was stormed after reports surfaced that a flight from Tel Aviv was due to arrive. Passengers on the flight were left with no choice but to take shelter inside the planes or seek refuge within the airport due to the fear of being attacked.
According to local health authorities, the recent incident resulted in 20 individuals sustaining injuries, with two being in critical condition. Additionally, the RIA news agency reported that nine police officers also received injuries, two of whom required hospital treatment. Fortunately, the passengers aboard the plane were unharmed, as confirmed by security forces who spoke to Reuters.
According to RIA’s report on Monday, as many as 150 protestors were identified and 60 individuals were detained later.
As the crowds neared the planes, airline staff could be seen rushing to usher passengers back inside. Makhachkala airport was closed by Russia on Sunday evening after reports of “intruders” on the premises.
As passengers huddled in their seats, fear gripped them as the captain’s voice boomed over the intercom. “There appears to be an angry mob outside who are unaware of our origins and purpose for being here. We may face the possibility of an attack.” The tension in the cabin was palpable as everyone wondered what would happen next.
According to sources, the riots seem to have been instigated by various messages circulating on Telegram. These messages claimed that a flight carrying refugees from Israel would be landing that evening in the area.
As the chaos unfolded, a disturbing sight emerged as rioters held up signs that read, “We are against Jewish refugees”. The police, seemingly powerless to stop the mob, stood by as hundreds of protesters flooded the airport’s main terminal, even venturing into restricted areas. The crowd demanded that customs officials lead them to arriving passengers, causing a tense and unsettling situation.
According to a recent report, the followers of Utro Dagestan, a Telegram account that often blends news with conspiracy theories, were instructed to gather around the nearby airport and question the incoming passengers. The message also urged them to demand that the passengers disavow the Israeli government.
The account urged the residents to keep an eye on Israelis who arrive in their locality, click pictures of their vehicles, and make a note of their accommodation addresses.
At the airport, some individuals were seen confronting airline passengers, including those who had just landed on a flight from Israel. These people claimed to be locals who had sought medical assistance abroad. Video footage captured these encounters.
On Monday, the Dagestani government announced its plans to enhance security measures throughout the republic, where approximately 3 million people reside.
According to Sergei Melikov, the leader of Dagestan, the recent occurrence was a severe breach of the law. Nevertheless, he expressed that the people of Dagestan understand and share the pain of those affected by the actions of unjust individuals and politicians. Melikov also conveyed his prayers for peace in Palestine.
Melikov, in a statement on the Telegram messaging app, argued that there is no bravery in gathering as a group to confront unarmed individuals who have not committed any illegal actions. He went on to attribute the riots to external influences, pointing out that they were caused by false information spread by those who seek to harm their nation.
Late on Sunday, the aviation authority in Russia confirmed that they had successfully removed all individuals who were not authorized to be present at the airport. Videos circulating online seem to show law enforcement officials arresting some of the protesters.
According to local religious officials, around 800 Jewish families residing in various parts of Dagestan, particularly in the southern city of Derbent, may require evacuation.
According to Ovadya Isakov, a government representative of the local Jewish community in Dagestan, the situation there is extremely challenging. Fear has gripped the community, with people calling him for advice, but he feels helpless as he doesn’t know what to tell them. Isakov wonders if it’s worth leaving, but he’s skeptical about Russia being a safe haven. He reminds us that there were pogroms in Russia before, and it’s uncertain where they can go to escape such atrocities.
Since the Hamas raid on southern Israel on 7 October, which resulted in over 1,400 deaths, notable figures in Dagestan have stood in solidarity with Palestine and have vocalized their opposition to the Israeli state. Unfortunately, in response, the Israeli government has launched a bombing campaign on Gaza, which has resulted in an estimated 8,000 deaths as of Sunday, according to local officials.
In a recent Instagram post, Khabib Nurmagomedov, a renowned former mixed-martial arts champion and a prominent personality in Dagestan, expressed his opinion to his massive following of over 35 million that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to “genocide.”
There have been multiple reports of acts of violence against the Jewish community across different regions in Russia. One such incident occurred in Makhachkala, but it’s not the only one. In the nearby city of Nalchik, a Jewish center was intentionally set on fire on the same day. Additionally, protesters in Khasavyurt, another city in Dagestan, searched hotel rooms for Jewish refugees. These incidents suggest a concerning trend of anti-Semitic behavior in the country.
According to Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, a former chief rabbi of Moscow who left in 2022 following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, there have been alarming reports from four different cities in Dagestan. These reports suggest that mobs are demanding the killing of Jews, which is a direct result of the Russian government’s support for Hamas in the ongoing conflict and its failure to condemn the recent massacre of 7/10. Goldschmidt expressed his concerns about the situation on Twitter, highlighting the dangers posed by extremist groups and the need for urgent action to address the issue.
Earlier this week, a delegation from Hamas embarked on their first high-profile international trip since the 7 October attacks. The group arrived in Moscow for meetings with the Russian foreign ministry, marking an important step towards building stronger international relationships.
Israel has issued a statement in response to the airport storming, calling on Russian authorities to ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews within their jurisdiction.
According to the foreign ministry in Jerusalem, any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and Jews is a serious matter that is viewed with great concern by the state of Israel. They expect the Russian law enforcement authorities to take necessary measures to ensure the safety and protection of all Israeli citizens and Jews.