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NATO chief says terrorist threat in Europe ‘real’

"We do not see an immediate threat of a military attack on NATO countries," Jens Stoltenberg said

ROME, November 28. /TASS/. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the threat of terrorism in Europe is real.

"We do not see an immediate threat of a military attack on NATO countries. But there is a constant danger - the threat of terrorist attacks. In Europe, the threat of terrorism is real. We are working with our partners in the Middle East and North Africa, in Jordan, in Tunisia, helping them to better control their borders and share information," the Adnkronos news agency quoted Stoltenberg as saying.

Commenting on the situation in the Middle East, the NATO chief pointed out that the lull in fighting in the Gaza Strip "has allowed for the release of hostages and the delivery of aid to the population." "I call for an extension of the pause because it will give the people of Gaza some rest and allow the release of hostages to continue," Stoltenberg said. He stressed that NATO "has never played an active role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict" but remains active in the region. "We are concerned about a possible escalation of the conflict," the NATO chief added.

Tensions flared up again in the Middle East on October 7 when Hamas militants staged a surprise attack on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, killing residents of Israeli border settlements and taking over 200 hostages, including women, children and the elderly. Hamas described its attack as a response to the aggressive actions of Israeli authorities against the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel has announced a total blockade of the Gaza Strip and has been delivering air strikes on Gaza as well as some parts of Lebanon and Syria. Clashes are also underway in the West Bank.

On November 22, the radical Palestinian movement Hamas announced that, with the help of Egypt and Qatar, it had reached a four-day agreement with Israel on a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The agreement calls for the release of 50 women, children, and teenagers under the age of 19 held in the enclave in exchange for 150 women, children, and teenagers under the age of 19 from Israeli prisons. The four-day ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel came into effect in Gaza on Friday at 7:00 a.m. local time (5:00 a.m. GMT); the first group of hostages was released on the same day. Initially, the agreement provided for the possibility of extending the ceasefire by one day for the release of each additional group of 10 hostages.

Israeli authorities have not yet officially confirmed their agreement to extend the four-day ceasefire, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke positively about the possibility of such an extension the day before the ceasefire expired.