Angry crowds of Muslims gathered at the airport in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s Republic of Dagestan, where a plane arriving from Israel landed Sunday evening.
According to reports in Russia, the agitated crowd was chanting "Allahu Akbar" and was looking to harm the Israelis who had landed at the city's airport. Members of the crowd were also reportedly stopping and inspecting each car in an attempt to locate Israelis.
According to another report, the passengers were returned to the plane and were unable to disembark. An official arrived on the scene attempting to calm the situation, but without success.
A local official noted that the plane touched down at 7:17pm. Protesters then approached the passengers to inspect their passports. According to early reports, all passengers were found to have Russian passports rather than Israeli ones.
However, a statement by the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said there were, in fact, Israelis on the plane and that the Israeli ambassador in Moscow was working with Russian authorities. "The State of Israel views gravely attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere," the statement said.
"Israel expects the Russian law enforcement authorities to safeguard all Israeli citizens and Jews, whoever they may be, and to take robust action against the rioters and against the unbridled incitement being directed at Jews and Israelis.”
An Israeli security official told Ynet that "a relatively small number of Israelis and Jews are currently isolated and secured at the airport." He added that “we are working to ensure their departure to a connecting flight to Moscow as soon as conditions permit.”
A total of 15 Israelis and Jews were on the plane. They were escorted to a room within the airport and remained there until a plane arrived to fly them to Moscow. Russia's Federal Aviation Authority has closed the airport until November 6 due to significant damage caused by rioters, including broken fences, shattered windows and stone-throwing.
Russian reports said that rioters had been cleared from the area, but there were later accounts of gunshots ringing near the airport.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in response to the news of the mob attacking the plane that, "this is not an isolated incident in Makhachkala, but rather a part of Russia's broader culture of hostility toward other countries, propagated by state television, critics and authorities. The Russian foreign minister has made a series of antisemitic remarks in the past year. The Russian president, too, has used antisemitic slurs."
Zelensky further remarked, "For the Russian propaganda heads speaking on official television, hate rhetoric is routine. Even the recent escalation in the Middle East prompted antisemitic statements from Russian ideologues. Russian antisemitism and hostility toward other countries are systemic and deeply rooted. Hatred fuels aggression and terror. We all must work together to oppose this hatred."
Israeli sources with connections in Dagestan had warned the Foreign Ministry and other relevant authorities on Sunday that such an incident might occur, likely in response to a similar incident that took place the day before.
A particularly violent protest was recorded outside the city’s Flamingo Hotel, where it was falsely claimed that Israeli refugees with family connections in Dagestan were residing. This misinformation was spread through Telegram groups.
Approximately 500 enraged protesters demanded the removal of the "Israelis" and explicitly stated that "Jews are not allowed here."
As a result, law enforcement had to intervene and permit some of the protesters to enter the hotel to confirm that there were no Israeli nationals present, only tourists from different parts of Russia. Subsequently, the crowd dispersed. A provocative sign was placed at the hotel entrance, declaring that "Entry for Israeli citizens is strictly prohibited."
Robert Singer, Chairman of the Center for Jewish Impact says “The horrifying and dangerous antisemitic riots in the Russian Republic of Dagestan and Caucuses, are extremely worrying. The Russian government must act immediately to protect the safety of its Jewish residents. Antisemitism is growing to horrific scales worldwide and we must employ all means to scale back this threat and provide safety to the Jewish people worldwide. This must be a priority for Israel’s foreign policy.”