Russian police arrested 60 people Monday after a huge crowd stormed the main airport in the Dagestan region to protest the arrival of a plane from Israel.
The anti-Israeli riot broke out at the Makhachkala International Airport on Sunday evening, following the arrival of a plane from Tel Aviv, reported Russian news agencies. Protesters flooded the airport, breached the runway, waving Palestinian flags while chanting antisemitic slogans and searching for passengers from the plane, according to news reports and videos shared on social media. Dagestan, which is a republic of Russia, has a predominantly Muslim population.
Russia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said Monday it had identified 150 people who took part in the riots and 60 of them had been taken into custody for further investigation.
More than 20 people were injured during the furor, 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, the head of Dagestan, said normal operations would resume within two to three days.
On Monday, Russia’s internal affairs ministry said the airport was “fully under the control of law enforcement agencies” and the region’s government said security measures would be strengthened across all cities and municipalities.
Melikov called the riots a “gross violation of the law.”
“All Daghestanis empathize with the suffering of the victims of the actions of unrighteous people and politicians and pray for peace in Palestine,” he said on messaging app Telegram. “But what happened at our airport is outrageous and should be appropriately assessed by law enforcement agencies.”
Melikov also spuriously claimed Kyiv was trying to destabilize the region by instigating the riots, pointing to a Telegram channel that called for violence and asserting it was controlled from Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday reacted to the riots, blaming “Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations” for the violence.
“Russian antisemitism and hatred toward other nations are systemic and deeply rooted,” said Zelenskyy, who is Jewish. “Hatred is what drives aggression and terror. We must all work together to oppose hatred.”
In a statement released Sunday night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office called for Russia to “safeguard the well-being of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they are and to take strong action against the rioters and against the wild incitement being directed against Jews and Israelis.”
A spokesperson from the White House National Security Council also condemned the “antisemitic protests,” saying that the U.S. “unequivocally stands with the entire Jewish community as we witness a worldwide surge in antisemitism.”
The Israel-Hamas conflict escalated earlier this month after the Palestinian militant group slaughtered over 1,400 people in Israel. Israel responded by launching an offensive in Gaza and enforcing a blockade. Moscow has maintained ties with Hamas — even welcoming a delegation from the group last week. Russia has repeatedly warned against an Israeli ground invasion of Gaza, which President Vladimir Putin said would lead to a broader regional conflict.