The conflict between the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas and the State of Israel began on October 7, 2023, initiating Operation ‘Al–Aqsa Flood’. Thousands of rocket shells were fired from the territory of the Gaza Strip, and there were numerous ground attacks and kidnappings of civilians of various nationalities. Israel officially declared the start of the war against Palestine. All the actions unfolding over the past month have been considered the bloodiest and most violent clash between Muslims and Jews.

Experts share their insights on the Palestinian–Israeli conflict. Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał, in an interview with Łukasz Maziewski, a journalist at Wirtualna Polska, shared his opinion on Israel’s conduct of an inevitable ground operation in the Gaza Strip.

Łukasz Maziewski: Israel is preparing for a final crackdown on Hamas. A ground offensive is a matter of days, if not hours. Will it be an easy operation for the Israeli army?

Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał: Definitely not. It will be a long, arduous bite into the area and clearing it of fighters, terrorists. At least those who will remain alive after the bombing and who will resist. Either way, it will be a bloody operation. Urban fighting is one of the most difficult and carries heavy losses on both sides (…).

Łukasz Maziewski: It is one of the most frequently repeated slogans: ‘urban struggles are very difficult’. Why?

Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał: Because threats lurk from every possible direction. At ground level, where soldiers walk and equipment rides, that is, in the streets and barricades. From above, because on the higher floors or rooftops of skyscrapers the defenders set up sharpshooters, operators of hand–held anti–tank launchers. And finally, what is often forgotten – underground. There are, after all, sewers, basements, water pipes.

Łukasz Maziewski: What kind of troops do you reach for when moving into battle in a city? Do you send special troops or a regular army, supported by motorized and armored units?

Res. Col. Piotr Gąstał: It depends. If a spotty, ‘surgical’ operation has to be performed, such as the recapture of hostages, then special forces will go into battle. But in Gaza we will have to fight a pretty large enemy, so infantry supported by Merkava tanks and Namer heavy armored personnel carriers will move into the attack. Special Forces operators – personally, I’m not fond of the word ‘specialists’ – will hit the most important, sensitive targets.

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