Several consistent videos from social media show a group storming the airport grounds and then gaining access to the tarmac. The shout “Allahu akbar” (“God is great”) can be heard again and again from the group, and several men carried a Palestinian flag with them.
“Quick, get on board!”
According to the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti, the mob tried to storm a plane that had arrived from the Israeli metropolis of Tel Aviv at 5:15 p.m. German time. The group specifically wanted to search for Israeli citizens. In a video recording you can see how the passengers were about to leave their plane, but were sent back by an airport employee with the words “Quickly, on board!” In another video, the group aggressively confronts a young man.
Security forces and special police units are already on site, Russian media report unanimously. The local authorities have already initiated criminal proceedings that could result in a prison sentence of up to fifteen years.
Hotels stormed, buildings set on fire
Makhachkala is the capital of the Russian republic of Dagestan in the south of the country. 94 percent of the population is Muslim. Because of the Gaza conflict, there is currently an increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the region. On Saturday, a crowd of angry people surrounded a hotel in the city of Khasavyurt because of rumors that refugees from Israel were being housed there. The state agency Ria confirmed this incident. According to local reports, several dozen men broke into the hotel to allegedly check the passports of hotel guests. The police sealed off the hotel.
The situation is made worse by the fact that the evacuation flights for Russian citizens from Tel Aviv land in the North Caucasus, namely at the airports of Makhachkala, Mineralnye Vody and Sochi. According to the anti-government Russian news portal Medusa, many of the passengers simply wanted to change trains in Makhachkala and fly on to Moscow. However, the airfield was temporarily closed and incoming aircraft were diverted to other airports.
In Nalchik, tires were set on fire next to a Jewish cultural center under construction on Sunday, the Ria news agency reported. According to the security authorities of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, the building was daubed with extremist slogans. According to photos, it said “Death to the Jews.” In the republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, demonstrators called for the local Jewish population to be deported.
Islamic clerics stand against the mob
The head of the Republic of Dagestan, Sergei Melikov, called on the population not to be incited by extremists who wanted to destabilize the situation. “Because of the fakes spread by our enemies, some very young people were on the verge of violating the laws,” he wrote on Telegram. The region’s Islamic clergy also made it clear: “Anti-Semitism has no place in the multi-ethnic North Caucasus.”
President Vladimir Putin met with the heads of the religions represented in Russia last week because of the violence in the Middle East. He called for peaceful coexistence between peoples and religions in the large country.