A group of protestors in southwestern Russia flooded an airport while chanting anti-Israeli remarks on Sunday night, reportedly searching for passengers from a flight that departed from Tel Aviv.
The airport, which is in the city of Makhachkala in the Republic of Dagestan, closed after rioters began flooding the runway, according to Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia. Rosaviatsia reported that all aircraft headed towards Makhachkala were diverted.
Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation reporter Amichai Stein said that a small number of Jews and Israelis were “isolated” at the airport during the protests. Rioters were heard yelled “Allahu Akbar” and anti-Semitic slogans.
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem told Reuters that an Israeli ambassador in Russia was working with authorities to protect the Israelis in the region.
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“The State of Israel views gravely attempts to harm Israelis citizens and Jews anywhere,” the statement read. “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.”
The majority of residents in Dagestan are Muslim. Jews are a minority group in Russia, with only around 83,000 Jews residing in the entire country.
Foreign affairs expert Rebekah Koffler told Fox News Digital that the situation “could be a big problem for Putin” if the protests are not contained.
“Many [local Muslims] are radicalized, as a result of suppression of religion during Soviet times, having learned the extremist version of Islam outside of Russia,” Koffler explained. “Putin brutally fought two wars in Chechnya having obliterated it in order to exterminate Islamic extremism.”
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“It is terrifying to think what could be happening to Russian Jews again. For 20 years, Putin has pursued largely a pro-Jewish, pro-Israel policies. If he doesn’t do it right, this will spill over and destabilize Muslim populated regions in Russia and may even spark terrorism in bigger cities again,” she added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy condemned the riots on Sunday night, calling them “appalling” and accusing Russian officials of being hateful towards Jews.
“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 wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
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“The Russian foreign minister has made a series of antisemitic remarks in the last year. The Russian President also used antisemitic slurs,” the Ukrainian leader explained. “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.”
Reuters contributed to this report.