Authorities in Russia’s Muslim-majority Dagestan region have temporarily closed its main airport due to the unauthorized entry of pro-Palestine protesters who gathered at Makhachkala airport after news spread that a scheduled flight from Tel Aviv was due to land.
The angry airport flareup comes amid growing Muslim anger over Israel’s indiscriminate Gaza attacks and viral footage of slain Palestinian civilians.
A statement from the Federal Air Transport Agency said: “Due to the entry of unknown persons onto the tarmac of Makhachkala airport, a decision was made to temporarily close the airport for servicing arriving and departing flights.”
Large numbers of people gathered at the airport protesting against Israel’s violence against Gaza over the past three weeks. They broke into the airport’s international terminal before pouring out onto the landing area after the arrival of a regular flight from Tel Aviv.
Videos circulating on social media showed a crowd of people chanting Takbeers and holding Palestinian flags forcing their way past security and later roaming the tarmac appearing to search for the flight.
The Palestinian death toll from Israeli bombardment in the Gaza Strip has climbed to 8,306, the Health Ministry in the blockaded enclave said on Monday.
Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra told a news conference in Gaza City: “The fatalities include 3,457 children and 2,136 women, while more than 21,048 people were injured.”
According to reports, the supreme mufti of Dagestan, Sheikh Akhmad Afandi, called on residents to stop the unrest.
A quote taken from his Telegram page stated: “You are mistaken. This issue cannot be resolved in this way. We understand and perceive your indignation very painfully. We will solve this issue differently. Not with rallies, but appropriately. Maximum patience and calm for you.”
More than 150 active participants in the protest have been identified, At least 60 participants who took part in the protest have been arrested. 5Pillars understands that no Israeli passengers were harmed during the incident.
Russia’s Federal Air Transport Agency later declared that operations at Makhachkala airport will resume on Tuesday morning.
The Kremlin said on Monday the Dagestan airport protest was the result of “outside interference.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a press briefing in Moscow: “It is well known and obvious that yesterday’s events around the Makhachkala airport are largely the result of outside interference, including information influence from outside.”
Peskov added that it is “very easy for ill-wishers to abuse the situation, provoke it, excite people” especially in light of footage of the clash between Israeli forces and the Palestinian group Hamas.