Protesters Flood Russian Airport Chanting Anti-Israeli Remarks
In a surprising turn of events, a group of protestors in southwestern Russia stormed an airport, chanting anti-Israeli remarks and causing chaos on Sunday night. It was reported that they were searching for passengers from a Tel Aviv-bound flight. The airport, located in Makhachkala, Dagestan, was forced to close down after the rioters flooded the runway, leading to the diversion of all incoming aircraft.
During the protests, a small number of Jews and Israelis were reportedly “isolated” at the airport, according to Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation reporter Amichai Stein. The Israeli Foreign Ministry stated that an Israeli ambassador in Russia was working closely with authorities to ensure the safety and protection of Israeli citizens in the region.
In a statement, the State of Israel expressed great concern over the attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews, wherever they may be. The statement urged Russian law enforcement authorities to take strong action against the rioters and the incitement directed at Jews and Israelis.
Dagestan, the region where the protests occurred, is predominantly Muslim, with Jews forming a minority group in Russia, numbering around 83,000 individuals nationwide.
Foreign affairs expert Rebekah Koffler noted that the situation could become a major problem for Russian President Vladimir Putin if the protests are not contained. Many local Muslims, she explained, have become radicalized due to religious suppression during Soviet times and exposure to extremist versions of Islam outside of Russia. Koffler also highlighted that Putin has pursued pro-Jewish and pro-Israel policies over the past two decades, and if the situation is mishandled, it could potentially lead to destabilization in Muslim-populated regions in Russia and even trigger terrorism in larger cities.
This incident raises concerns about the safety and security of Russian Jews, particularly as Putin has previously fought against Islamic extremism in Chechnya. The outcome of this situation will undoubtedly have significant implications.
[Image: Makhachkala, Dagestan Republic, Russia – Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images]
[Image: Israeli tank – Mostafa Alkharouf/Anadolu via Getty Images]
[Image: Pro-Hamas demonstrators holding Putin sign – HAZEM BADER/AFP via Getty Images]
(Reuters contributed to this report.)