The radical Salafist jihadi group the Mujahideen Shura Council of Jerusalem (MSC), a relatively new consolidation of extremist Sunni Islamists operating in the Gaza Strip and in Sinai, claimed responsibility on Sunday for many of the rockets fired from Gaza in the recent round of violence.

The group, which shares an ideology with al-Qaida, has issued several statements calling for jihad against Israel and has previously claimed responsibility for several rocket attacks, including the June 18 attack that killed an Israeli civilian.

Late on Sunday, the MSC published several statements on jihadist forums claiming responsibility for rocket fire on a number of towns, including Netivot and Sderot.

The MSC also published a short, apparently professionally made video that purports to document the launch of the rocket that struck a house in Netivot.

Another of the MSC’s Sunday statements is entitled “Bombing Jewish settlements with nine rockets” and lists details of missiles the group says it fired at Israel: five rockets fired at Kissufim near Gaza, three at 5 p.m. and another two at 9 and 10 p.m. Sunday; two rockets fired at Ashkelon at 10 a.m.; and two missiles fired at Sderot at 5 p.m.

“The Jewish usurpers should know that no one can provide them a tranquil life in our country,” the statement reads, adding that Muslims must remove Jews from their homes so that Palestinians can return.

Calling on Muslims to wage jihad against the Jews, the statement cites a passage from verse 191 of the Koran’s Surat al-Baqarah, which refers to Muslims fighting against non-Muslims if their lands are attacked: “And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they expelled you.”

“The continued desecration of the Aksa Mosque, the demolition of villages in the Negev and of houses in Jerusalem, the killing of children in Khan Yunis and Shijaia [in Gaza] and Ramallah... the list of crimes of the Jewish occupation is long, they must pay an equivalent heavy price,” the statement says.

According to the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center, the MSC includes two other al- Qaida-linked groups, the Sunni jihadist Palestinian al-Tawhid wal-Jihad and Ansar al-Sunnah. The MSC appears wellorganized and funded, judging from its wide presence on Internet forums and its professionally made videos.

In recent weeks, Israel has stepped up its counterterrorism activities against the MSC.

On October 13, the IAF successfully conducted the targeted killing of two senior operatives, Hisham Ali Abd al- Karim Saidani, codenamed Abu al-Walid al-Maqdisi; and Ashraf Salah, the former emir of Ansar al-Sunnah.

In response, the MSC urged Muslims to confront “the hateful Jews,” saying that the “treacherous assassination by criminal Jewish warplanes” of Saidani and Salah should motivate Muslims to wage jihad.

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