Russian police arrested 60 people on Monday after a huge crowd stormed the Dagestan region’s main airport to protest the arrival of a plane from Israel.
Anti-Israeli riots broke out on Sunday evening at Makhachkala international airport, following the arrival of a plane from Tel Aviv, Russian news agencies reported. Protesters invaded the airport, breached the runway, waved Palestinian flags while chanting anti-Semitic slogans and searching for the plane’s passengers, according to reports and videos shared on social media. Dagestan, which is a republic of Russia, has a majority Muslim population.
Russia’s Interior Ministry said Monday it had identified 150 people who took part in the riots and that 60 of them had been detained for further investigation.
More than 20 people were injured, including nine police officers, according to authorities and local news agencies.
Operations at the airport were temporarily halted due to the protests and dozens of flights were canceled on Sunday. Sergei Melikov, head of Dagestan, said normal operations would resume within two to three days.
On Monday, Russia’s Interior Ministry said the airport was “completely under the control of law enforcement” and the region’s government said security measures would be increased in all cities and municipalities.
Melikov called the riots a “blatant violation of the law.”
“All Dagestanis sympathize with the suffering of victims of the actions of unjust people and politicians and pray for peace in Palestine,” he said on the Telegram messaging app. “But what happened at our airport is outrageous and should be appropriately evaluated by law enforcement.”
Melikov also falsely claimed that kyiv was trying to destabilize the region by inciting riots, pointing to a Telegram channel that called for violence and claiming it was controlled from Ukraine.
On Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy reacted to the riots, blaming “Russia’s pervasive culture of hatred toward other nations” for the violence.
“Russian anti-Semitism and hatred toward other nations is systemic and deeply rooted,” said Zelenskyy, who is Jewish. “Hate is the engine of aggression and terror. We must all work together to stand up to hate.
In a statement released Sunday evening, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called to Russia to “safeguard the well-being of all Israeli and Jewish citizens wherever they are and to take strong measures against the rioters and against wild incitement directed against Jews and Israelis”.
A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council also sentenced “anti-Semitic protests,” asserting that the United States “stands unequivocally with the entire Jewish community as we witness a rise in anti-Semitism around the world.”
The conflict between Israel and Hamas intensified earlier this month after the Palestinian militant group massacred more than 1,400 people in Israel. Israel responded by launching an offensive in Gaza and imposing a blockade. Moscow has maintained its ties with Hamas, even hosting a delegation from the group last week. Russia has repeatedly warned of an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, which President Vladimir Putin has said would lead to a wider regional conflict.