Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday announced that Israel was about to launch a ground operation in the Gaza Strip and called for an unconditional cease-fire.

He said that all his efforts to end the violence have failed.

Abbas told residents of east Jerusalem who visited him in his office in Ramallah that Israel was seeking to expel Palestinians from their lands and homes.

“But we say to them that we’re not leaving,” Abbas said. “We don’t have weapons, but we will remain steadfast and fight with words. If Israel has missiles and weapons, this doesn’t mean that we will surrender. We will fight in a civilized way that disturbs others.”

Abbas claimed that the Israel government has approved a ground operation against the Gaza Strip, which, he added, would begin in the coming hours. He pointed out that the IDF has asked Palestinians living close to the border with Israel to leave their homes and move deeper into the Gaza Strip.

Abbas said that the two sides should agree to an unconditional truce. “The most important thing now is to avoid bloodshed,” he said. “The Egyptians have held contacts with the two sides, but these efforts have unfortunately failed.”

Abbas said that he also talked to the Americans and demanded that Israel halt its military operations unilaterally so that he could persuade Hamas to stop its attacks. He said that these efforts also failed to end the fighting.

“We are paying the price,” Abbas complained. “Until now, dozens of martyrs have fallen and hundreds injured. We are keen on stopping the fighting.”

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