Rioters hunt for Jews from Israel at Russian airport

Hundreds of people stormed into the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region in an attempt to confront Jewish passengers aboard a flight from Israel.

The violence in the predominantly Muslim region erupted amid the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and prompted  Israel to call on Russia to protect its citizens, reports The Times of Israel.

The protesters, many of them chanting „Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest), broke through doors and barriers, with some running onto the runway in an attempt to confront Jewish passengers aboard a flight from Israel. Many of them carried Palestinian flags. They came after a Telegram channel called for men to arrive at the airport to confront passengers of flight WZ 4728 by Red Wings, a Russian airline, which took off from Tel Aviv. The messages called on rioters to „avenge Gaza.”

One protester could be seen in the videos holding a sign reading, „Child killers have no place in Dagestan.” Other videos showed a crowd inside an airport terminal trying to break down doors as staff members tried to deter them.

„There were hundreds at the [Makhachkala] airport. About 50 men approached the aeroplane and asked passengers if they were Jews. I said no. I’m Russian. They wanted to see my passport. I had a Russian passport. They hung around there and then pulled back at a certain point,” one eyewitness said.

None of the passengers were hurt in the incident, according to Alex Bendersky, a Russian-speaking Israeli who covered the event on Carmel News.

According to Boruch Gorin, a spokesperson for Russia Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar, the police did not intervene at first and were nowhere in sight when protesters started checking out vehicles leaving the airport in search of Jewish people. In the end, the police arrested at least three persons.

Shortly after the incident, Russia’s aviation agency Rossavitsia announced that it had closed the airport and freed it from the protesters.

The Dagestani government urged citizens in a Telegram post to refrain from illegal acts, at the same time expressing sympathy towards those who avenge „the inhumane massacre of a civilian population — the Palestinian people.” In a following post, the Republic of Dagestan denounced the mob but yet again emphasised understanding toward „all Dagestanis [who] empathise with the suffering of victims by the actions of unrighteous people and politicians and pray for peace in Palestine.”

Earlier Sunday, a Jewish centre under construction in Dagestan was set ablaze, and the words „Death to the Jews” were inscribed on its walls. According to Ze’ev Elkin, a member of Benny Gantz’s National Unity party, Russian Jewish organisations have been telling Russian Jews „not to think about holding demonstrations in support of Israel. That wasn’t the case in the past. The atmosphere was different in the past.”

Elkin said the mob overrunning the airport was not coincidental or random but rather the consequence of the Russian political leadership’s stance in the wake of Hamas’s massacre of Israelis, and made reference to Russia’s deputy foreign minister who gave „a king’s welcome” to a Hamas delegation in Moscow on Thursday. Elkin emphasised that when the government acts like this, it is natural for the people to believe they are permitted to carry out attacks like the ones in Dagestan.