Unrest Erupts at Russian Airport Over Arrival of Israeli Refugees

Rioters at the airport held signs reading, ‘We are against Jewish refugees’. Photograph: Twitter

Unrest gripped Makhachkala airport in Russia as it closed its doors on a Sunday evening due to the presence of what authorities described as “intruders.” The situation rapidly escalated, with airport employees hastily guiding passengers back onto their planes to avoid a potential confrontation with the crowds that had gathered outside.

The turmoil at the airport appeared to have been sparked by a series of posts on the social media platform Telegram. These posts had warned followers about the imminent arrival of Israeli refugees on a flight from Tel Aviv. Inside the airport, the atmosphere grew increasingly tense, and an announcement from the captain acknowledged the angry mob outside and the looming possibility of an attack.

Protesters at the airport were seen holding signs expressing their opposition to Jewish refugees, a development that took many by surprise. Local police initially allowed the protesters to enter restricted areas of the airport, where they demanded access to arriving passengers.

The role of Telegram in fueling the unrest cannot be underestimated. Accounts such as “Utro Dagestan” played a significant part in encouraging people to besiege the local airport, interrogate arriving Israelis, and even compel them to denounce the Israeli government.

Russian aviation authorities later reported that all “unauthorized citizens” had been successfully removed from the airport premises, and video clips circulating online depicted police taking action to arrest some of the protesters. Meanwhile, local religious authorities raised concerns about the safety of Jewish families in Dagestan, with discussions emerging about a potential evacuation, particularly in the southern city of Derbent.

The incident at Makhachkala airport has added further fuel to an already tense international context, especially considering ongoing conflicts in the Middle East. Notably, some prominent figures in Dagestan have expressed support for Palestine and criticized the Israeli government. Reports of anti-Jewish acts were not confined to Makhachkala, as incidents were reported in other cities in the region.

In response to the turmoil, Israel has issued a plea to Russian authorities to safeguard Israeli citizens and Jews within their jurisdiction, emphasizing the gravity of attempts to harm these communities and the pressing need for their protection.

In this volatile situation, the incident at Makhachkala airport underscores the complex and sensitive nature of tensions related to international conflicts and the safety of different communities residing within Russia.