All flights to and from Makhachkala airport in the Russian region were suspended after groups of protesters entered the facility.
Hundreds of people stormed the main airport in Russia’s Dagestan region on Sunday evening to protest the arrival of a plane from Israel.
On Sunday, authorities closed the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of the predominantly Muslim region, and police moved into the facility. There were no immediate reports of arrests, but there were several injured.
“As a result of the incident at Makhachkala airport, there are injured (people) who are receiving medical assistance,” Dagestan’s Health Ministry said on Telegram, without elaborating.
According to local news, the plane belonged to the Russian airline Red Wings.
Social media footage showed some in the crowd at the landing site waving Palestinian flags and others checking the passports of passengers who had arrived in Makhachkala.
“We are receiving reports that protesters are now trying to overturn a police car at Makhachkala airport,” Al Jazeera’s Yulia Shapovalova reported from Moscow. “Police reportedly fired into the air to disperse the crowd.”
In the videos, a protester could be seen holding a sign that read, “Child murderers have no place in Dagestan.”
In a statement released Sunday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that Israel “expects Russian law enforcement agencies to protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews wherever they are and to act resolutely against the rioters and the “wild agitation” directed against Jews and Israelis.”
Calls for calm
The Interior Ministry of Russia’s North Caucasus Federal District, where Dagestan is located, said CCTV footage would be used to establish the identities of those who stormed the airport and that those involved would be brought to justice.
While expressing support for Gaza, the regional government of Dagestan appealed to citizens to remain calm and not take part in such protests.
The government warned protesters via Telegram not to “continue illegal actions and not to interfere in the work of airport employees.”
The statement continued: “It is not easy for any of us to stand by and watch the inhumane massacre of a civilian population – the Palestinian people. At the same time, we call on the residents of the republic not to give in to the provocations of destructive groups and not to create panic in society.”
The incident comes as Israel expands its ground operations in the Gaza Strip, even as heavy airstrikes continue. More than 8,000 Palestinians, including 3,324 children, have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the war began. At least 1,400 Israelis and foreigners were killed in Israel, most of them in a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7.
The Supreme Mufti of Dagestan, Sheikh Achmad Afandi, called on residents to end the unrest at the airport.
“You are wrong. This problem cannot be solved this way. We understand and feel your indignation very painfully. We will solve this problem differently. Not with rallies, but appropriately. Maximum patience and calm for you,” he said in a video published on Telegram.
Russia’s civil aviation agency Rosaviatsia later reported that the airfield had been cleared of unauthorized persons, but that the airport would remain temporarily closed to incoming aircraft until November 6.
Chechnya and Dagestan are two unstable republics in Russia where predominantly Muslims live.
Earlier on Sunday, the RIA Novosti news agency reported that a Jewish center in the city of Nalchik in another Russian republic – Kabardino-Balkaria – was set on fire.
Source : www.aljazeera.com