Anti-Israel protesters storm runway at Russian airport

An airport in Russia has been forced to close after anti-Israel protesters stormed the runway, reportedly chanting antisemitic slogans and looking for passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv.

Video footage on social media shows people, mostly young men, running through Makhachkala airport in the southern region of Dagestan - many waving Palestinian flags - on Sunday evening.

"Unauthorised citizens" broke on to the runway when a Red Wings flight from Tel Aviv was due to land there, Russian media said.

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Around 20 people were hurt, according to local health authorities, before police took over the airport.

Russia's interior ministry said 60 people have been arrested and 150 of "the most active protesters" have been identified.

Nine police officers were also injured, two of whom were taken to hospital.

Sergei Melikov, the head of Dagestan, said the incident was a gross violation of the law, even as Dagestanis "empathise with the suffering of victims… and pray for peace in Palestine".

"There is no courage in waiting as a mob for unarmed people who have not done anything forbidden," he added.

'Allahu Akbar' chants

Footage showed the protesters breaking down glass doors and running through the airport, with some shouting "Allahu Akbar", which means "God is Greatest".

According to Russian news agencies, they also chanted antisemitic slogans.

The identification number on the tail of the plane suggested it had come from Israel, according to tracking website FlightRadar 24.

All flights from the airport, which is in a predominantly Muslim part of Russia, were diverted to others nearby, Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said.

Security officials said they were able to clear the group from the runway at 10.20pm local time.

The airport will remain closed until "normalisation" of the situation, Russian officials said.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel expects the Russian authorities to "protect the safety of all Israeli citizens and Jews".

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, posted on X: "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."

The Supreme Mufti - chief Muslim cleric - of Dagestan, Sheikh Akhmad Afandi, called on residents to stop the unrest at the airport.

"You are mistaken," he said. "This issue cannot be resolved in this way. We understand and perceive your indignation very painfully."

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The protests were a "knife in the backs of those who gave their lives for the security of the Motherland", he added, referring to the 1999 war in Dagestan and troops currently fighting in Ukraine.

The founder of Telegram, Pavel Durov, said the social media app will block channels that called for antisemitic violence in Dagestan.

Durov wrote on his own channel: "Channels calling for violence will be blocked for violating the rules of Telegram, Google, Apple and the entire civilised world."

He also posted a screenshot from the channel "Utro Dagestan (Morning Dagestan) - which is said to have contained threats to the tiny community of Jewish people living in the region.

It comes as Israel increases its operations in Gaza in response to the 7 October Hamas incursion.

Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), said it "continues to gradually expand our combat operations according to the plans in order to achieve the goal of the war".

So far, more than 1,400 Israelis have been killed in the conflict, according to the Israeli military.

The Gaza health ministry says more than 7,700 Palestinians have been killed.