Mob Overruns Airport in Dagestan Amidst Rumours of Israeli Flight
MOSCOW, Russia – Chaos erupted at an airport in Russia’s Dagestan Republic on Sunday, as a mob, incited by rumors of an incoming flight from Israel, targeted Israelis and Jews. The violence, which coincided with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, prompted Israel to appeal to Russia for protection of its citizens.
Videos circulating on social media and Russian media outlets, RT and Izvestia, showed dozens of protesters, many chanting “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), breaking through doors and barriers at the airport. Some even made their way onto the runway. The authenticity of the videos could not be immediately verified by AFP.
In response to the incident, Russia’s aviation agency, Rossavitsia, closed the airport to incoming and outgoing flights and dispatched security forces to the scene. A statement from the government of Russia’s Dagestan Republic, posted on Telegram, assured that “the situation is under control” and that law enforcement was working on-site.
Later on Sunday, Rossavitsia announced that the airport had been “freed” from the mob but would remain closed until November 6. Local Telegram channels shared images and videos of men gathered outside the airport, attempting to stop cars and dismantle security barriers. One protester was seen holding a sign reading “Child killers have no place in Dagestan.”
The violence at the airport comes on the heels of Hamas militants launching their deadliest attack against Israel on October 7, resulting in the deaths of 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and the kidnapping of 230 others, according to Israeli officials. In response, Israel has conducted relentless bombings in Gaza, leading to the deaths of over 8,000 people, half of whom were children, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement expressing expectations for the Russian authorities to protect Israeli citizens and Jews, and to take decisive action against the rioters and incitement to violence. Akhmed Dudayev, the minister of information in neighboring Chechnya, also appealed for calm and warned against provocations.
The Dagestan government, via its Telegram channel, urged the mob to refrain from illegal acts and interfering with airport operations. The statement acknowledged the difficult situation in Palestine but called on residents not to succumb to destructive groups’ provocations or create panic in society.
According to Flightradar, a Red Wings flight from Tel Aviv had landed in Makhachkala at 7:00 pm (1600 GMT) and was scheduled to depart for Moscow two hours later. Chechnya and Dagestan, both volatile republics in the Russian Caucasus, have predominantly Muslim populations.
In another disturbing incident, RIA Novosti reported that a Jewish center in Kabardino-Balkaria, a North Caucasus republic, was set ablaze in the city of Nalchik earlier on Sunday.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed concern over the “appalling” videos shared on social media, describing the incident as part of Russia’s culture of hatred towards other nations, which is allegedly propagated through state television, pundits, and authorities.