Flight from Israel to Russia’s Dagestan diverted after pro-Palestinian protesters storm airport

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TEL AVIV: A flight from Israel to Russia’s Dagestan was diverted from its intended destination in the capital of Makhachkala after pro-Palestinian protesters stormed the airport, seeking to attack the Israeli arrivals, The Times of Israel reported citing multiple reports.

The flight landed at an alternate airport. However, the passengers faced riots there as well, The Times of Israel reported citing Channel 12. Passengers were asked to remain in the plane and riot police were called to the site to protect them.

Visuals from the site showed a mob rampaging through an airport terminal after learning of the incoming flight. The crowd was largely made up of Palestinian expats, The Times of Israel reported.

More than 20 people were injured when protesters stormed Makhachkala airport in Dagestan, including police and civilians, TASS reported. According to the local Ministry of Health, ten people are in hospitals, with two of them in critical condition.

“Doctors from republican hospitals are treating ten injured in the incident at Makhachkala airport. There are moderate to severe injuries among both police officers and civilians. Two people are in critical condition. Doctors are doing everything they can to save their patients’ lives. Over ten more people with minor injuries sought outpatient medical care”, TASS quoted the Russian Health Ministry.

Police in Russia’s Dagestan have arrested multiple rioters who stormed the runway at Makhachkala airport on Sunday. “After unidentified persons appeared in the landing area of the Makhachkala airport, it was decided to temporarily close the airport for arrivals and departures”, it said. “Flights that were to land in Makhachkala have been directed to other airports”, the Russian Aviation authority said.

Several hundred people gathered at the airport protesting against the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They broke into the airport’s building and landing area after the arrival of a regular flight from Tel Aviv.

Israel Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry said they are following events in Dagestan. Israel PM’s Office and Foreign Ministry said that they “expect Russian law enforcement to maintain the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews and to act with determination against rioters and wild incitement against Jews and Israelis”, The Times of Israel reported.

They said, “Israel takes a grave view of attempts to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere”. Meanwhile, Israel’s Ambassador to Russia Alex Ben Zvi is working to ensure the safety of the flight passengers, according to The Times of Israel report.

Reacting to the reports of the airport being stormed by anti-Semitic rioters, the US Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (SEAS), Deborah E Lipstadt, said there was no excuse for targeting Jews.

“We condemn the violent protests that have been reported in Russia threatening Israelis and Jews. We call on Russian authorities to ensure their safety. The US stands with Israel and the entire Jewish community as we see a surge in antisemitism throughout the world. There is no excuse for targeting Jews or engaging in anti-Semitic incitement anywhere”, the Ambassador posted on X.

Reacting to the incident in Dagestan, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he is “appaled” by the scenes. He called the incident a part of Russia’s “widespread culture of hatred toward other nations.”

Taking to X, Zelenskyy stated, “Appalling videos from Makhachkala, Russia, where an angry mob broke into the airport searching for Israeli citizens on the flight from Tel-Aviv. This is not an isolated incident in Makhachkala, but rather part of Russia’s widespread culture of hatred toward other nations, which is propagated by state television, pundits, and authorities.”

He further said, “The Russian foreign minister has made a series of antisemitic remarks in the last year. The Russian President also used antisemitic slurs. For Russian propaganda talking heads on official television, hate rhetoric is routine. Even the most recent Middle East escalation prompted antisemitic statements from Russian ideologists. Russian antisemitism and hatred toward other nations are systemic and deeply rooted. Hatred is what drives aggression and terror. We must all work together to oppose hatred”.

Earlier on Saturday, pro-Palestinian protesters on Saturday held a demonstration in London, Berlin, and Rome to call for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire, Reuters reported. At least 7,000 pro-Palestinian protesters held a march over the Brooklyn Bridge in the US’ New York on Saturday, New York Post reported.

The protesters, holding banners, Palestinian flags and signs, raised slogans like ‘Free Palestine’. The demonstrators held signs with slogans like “Stop Killing Children”, “Freedom for Palestine” and “Stop bombing Gaza,” according to visuals captured by Reuters.

One of the protesters in London said, “My fear is that there will be no more Palestine. At the moment, it’s not free Palestine, it’s save Palestine. That is my fear that they would be wiped off existence,” Reuters reported. During the march through the borough, the protesters openly cheered for Hamas’s terrorists’ attacks on Israel, New York Post reported. (ANI)

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