Oct 29 (Reuters) – Russian authorities closed an airport in the city of Makhachkala in the North Caucasus region and diverted flights, including to Israel, after media reports showed protesters had gathered there to protest Israeli actions in Gaza.
At 10:20 p.m. Moscow time (1920 GMT), Russian aviation authority Rosaviatsia said security forces removed the group from Makhachkala airport in Dagestan – one of several in the North Caucasus region.
The authority said the airport would remain closed pending “normalization” of the situation. Russia’s Investigative Committee has ordered a criminal investigation into the incident.
Israel urged Russian authorities to protect Israelis and Jews in their jurisdiction following these statements.
The Israeli ambassador in Moscow is working with Russian officials, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said in a statement. “The State of Israel takes seriously any attempt to harm Israeli citizens and Jews anywhere,” the statement said.
Caucasus-Really, a division of US-funded Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, released videos of noisy crowds waving Palestinian flags in and around the terminal building in Makkahla.
Other Russian media showed a crew trying to access the plane, but the passengers were safe on board. Reuters could not determine whether the passengers would eventually be able to disembark.
According to the FlightRadar24 flight tracking website, an identification number on the tail of the plane indicates that it originated from Israel.
Regional leaders in Dagestan and two other parts of the North Caucasus called for peace. A similar appeal was made by the Chief Mufti of Dagestan.
Russia has tried to maintain contact with all sides in the conflict, pitting Israel against Hamas, but has angered Israeli officials by inviting Hamas representatives to Moscow. Israel’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Sunday.
In Jerusalem by Dan Williams; Written by Ron Popsky; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Lisa Schumacher
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