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‘It could have all ended with us getting killed’ Passenger on flight from Israel to Russia’s Dagestan recounts anti-Semitic riot at airport
The excerpt below is from a translated interview with Shmuel, a 26-year-old from Jerusalem. He spoke with the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth on October 20, 2023. He recounts his experience as a passenger on a flight from Tel Aviv to the city of Makhachkala in Russia’s Dagestan region, which was met with hundreds of anti-Semitic rioters at the airport.
I was travelling to Makhachkala to see my fiancé. The flight arrived at 8:19 p.m. local time. Out of the 45 passengers onboard, 15, including children, were Israeli. Many had a layover in Makhachkala on their way to Moscow. We were brought to passport control and asked to wait due to a riot on the street. There were a lot of police around.
Suddenly, we see hundreds of people breaking into the airport. The police evacuated us into a bus, while people were running along the runway and throwing rocks after us. Children were screaming. One girl was injured by shards of broken glass. Very scary. The bus loops around the airport, people are chasing us, rocks are flying. I cover the window with my suitcase. At one point, the crowd stops the bus. They enter inside and ask each of us whether we’re Muslim or Jewish. We’re lucky that the Israelis on the bus speak Russian. It could have all ended with us getting killed (I know the rioters shot and wounded a flight attendant.)
I don’t speak Russian, but Israelis who did helped me out. I answer that I’m Muslim and I’m scared to die. Luckily, they believe me. I saw death on that bus. If they had given me a serious interrogation, they would have realized that I was Israeli. The police rescue us. They place the bus under protection. Thousands of Hamas supporters were on the field. After four hours of terror, a Russian army helicopter evacuated us. It shoots into the air to scare the crowd, like in action movies, and then takes us to a Russian military base in another city. We sleep there, eat there. Whoever wants to, flies to Moscow, but some others stay.
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