Give the gift of Israel for Christmas. Bring your family to the Holy Land in 2013 with The Joshua Fund.

TJFtour-2012On behalf of The Joshua Fund’s board and staff, it is my honor to invite you to join us for our “2013 Prayer & Vision Trip to Israel.”

The tour will be held June 25 through July 7, 2013, and will include the 2013 Epicenter Conference in Jerusalem. We would be so blessed to have you and your family and friends — perhaps your entire home fellowship group or small group Bible study — with us for an unforgettable journey through the Holy Land, learning its history, discovering what the Lord is doing there now, hearing testimonies of God’s faithfulness, studying Bible prophecy, and participating in an actual humanitarian relief project to care for the poor and needy.

Week by week, more people are signing up. There is limited space so please don’t wait to pray, read through the details of the trip and watch the video, and make your decision.

What a wonderful Christmas present this would be for your family — the gift of Israel!

Now is an especially important time to visit Israel. During a recent highly controversial U.N. General Assembly debate, only 8 nations voted with Israel and the people of Israel are feeling isolated and alone. Now is not the time to abandon Israel. Now is the time to lean forward. Now is the time to put our faith into action. That’s why I’m asking those of you who truly love Israel and are truly “prayer warriors” to pray about this. If the Lord gives you the “green light,” then please register and plan on coming to Israel with us next summer. This trip is not for everyone. It is for those who know the Lord is telling them to participate. To learn more — and to register – please click here.

If you have never been to the Holy Land, it is hard to describe what a profound spiritual effect such a journey can have on you and your family. You may have heard others say God’s Word seemed to “come alive” in a new way when they walked where Jesus walked, from the shores of Galilee to the Mount of Olives and into the streets of Jerusalem. Well, it’s true, and I believe our 2013 Israel trip will allow you to experience this for yourself and intensify your desire to walk more closely with Jesus Christ, especially as you come to better understand the challenges of living and working in this unique part of the world.

If you have been to Israel before, this trip will be a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of how powerfully the Lord is moving there. And this tour is like no other. Lord willing, you will visit The Joshua Fund’s warehouse, You will meet our American and Israeli staff and several of our Board members. You will participate in a practical ministry project to bless the poor and needy. You will have the opportunity to meet with and pray for local pastors and ministry leaders on the frontlines of the faith. You will participate in a special conference to study God’s Word and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I will also teach at key locations and answer your questions about the future of the epicenter.

It’s going to be a remarkable trip at a critical time in Israeli history. Our presence will send an important message to Israelis and Palestinians that we love them and will never forget or abandon them. Please prayerfully consider joining us. I would love to see you there!

Yours to bless Israel and her neighbors in the name of Jesus,

Joel C. Rosenberg

President/CEO, The Joshua Fund,

12/12/12 & the Mayans: Are these the End of Days? Could the Rapture happen this month?

2012-movie(Washington, D.C.) — With today being 12/12/12, many people around the world are buzzing about the significance (if any) to this day. With the end of the Mayan calendar approaching on 12/21, people are asking if this is the “End of Days.”

* A Fox News headline reads: “With mere days to ‘doomsday,’ scientists call for calm.”

* The Detroit Free Press has a story called:  “Mayan doomsday or not, all eyes on Dec. 21.”

* A headline in one British newspaper reads: “Doomsayers await the end of the world: But governments try to reassure their citizens not to panic.”

* A headline in another British paper reads: “Mayan apocalypse: panic spreads as December 21 nears: Fears that the end of the world is nigh have spread across the world with only days until the end of the Mayan calendar, with doomsday-mongers predicting a cataclysmic end to the history of Earth.”

* An Asian news site has a story called: “End of the world:  There are only nine days left.

* Another Asian news service is running this headline: “Doomsday phobia hits China.”

* Many are watching (or re-watching) the recent film, 2012.

To be clear: the Bible says nothing about 12/12/12. Nor does it say anything about the Mayan calendar. The prophecies in Scripture, however, do speak a great deal about the End of Days, known as the “last days” and the “latter times.” In several of my books — including Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic & Spiritual Challenges In Time? — I examine a number of these prophecies and consider their implications for the U.S., Israel, and other nations.
Short version: the Earth is not literally coming to an end this month. The Bible does say the earth will be destroyed someday, and then He will create a new earth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away,” wrote the Apostle John in a prophecy about the future found in Revelation 21:1. The Apostle Peter wrote, “[T]he heavens will pass aways with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” (2 Peter 3:10). But four major prophetic events happen before the literal destruction and recreation of our planet: 1) the Rapture; 2) the Tribulation, a seven year period of God’s judgment; 3) the Second Coming of Christ; and 4) the “Millennial Kingdom,” a thousand year period in which Christ reigns over the entire earth. So at this point, we are at least 1,007 years away from the end of the earth.
Again, I’ve written about these issues in the past, but given the widespread interest this week, let’s look at several of these issues a bit more closely:

Q: What does the Bible teach about the second coming of Jesus and something called “the Rapture”?

A: The Bible describes two separate and distinct future events, both of which are often described as the Second Coming. The first event is what Bible scholars call the Rapture. In 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, the apostle Paul writes that “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” In this passage, Paul is describing an event in which Jesus Christ will not physically, literally touch down on the earth but will first come “in the clouds” and snatch away His true followers from the earth in an instant of time. Those who have not chosen to follow Christ, those who have not been “born again,” will remain behind on the earth and will have to go through a terrible time of wars, famines, natural disasters, and divine judgments known as the Tribulation.

The second event occurs at the end of the Tribulation. This is when the Bible teaches that Jesus will physically, literally return to earth, destroy His enemies, and set up His own righteous government based in Jerusalem. He will reign on earth for one thousand years. In Revelation 19:11–20:6, the apostle John writes, “I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. . . . He will rule [the nations]. . . . And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and he threw him into the abyss. . . . And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God . . . and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. . . . Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection. . . . They will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.”

Q: Are there any signs that will indicate when the return of Jesus Christ is close at hand, and if so, what are they?

A: One day while Jesus and His disciples were sitting on the Mount of Olives, overlooking the city of Jerusalem, the disciples asked Him this very question. Their query is recounted in Matthew 24:3.

“Tell us,” they said, “what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Jesus could have refused to answer the question. Instead, He answered them at great length and detail. His answers are recorded in Matthew chapter 24 and in Luke chapter 21, and they provide a checklist of signs to watch for. Among them:

  • Revolutions (Luke 21:9, NIV)
  • The rise of false prophets and false messiahs (Matthew 24:4-5, 11, 23-27)
  • Wars and rumors of wars (Matthew 24:6)
  • Nations rising against nations (Matthew 24:7)
  • Kingdoms rising against kingdoms (Matthew 24:7)
  • Famines (Matthew 24:7)
  • Plagues (Luke 21:11)
  • Earthquakes (Matthew 24:7) and “great earthquakes” (Luke 21:11)
  • “Terrors” that lead to “men fainting from fear” (Luke 21:11, 26)
  • Persecution of the believers (Matthew 24:9)
  • Apostasy and betrayal of one another (Matthew 24:10)
  • Increasing lawlessness (Matthew 24:12)
  • People’s love for one another growing cold (Matthew 24:12)
  • “The roaring of the sea and the waves” (Luke 21:25)
  • The good news (the gospel) of Christ’s love and forgiveness will be preached “in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations”—even Muslim nations, even Radical nations—“and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14)

Jesus cautioned His followers not to speculate on the exact time of the Rapture or the Second Coming. In Matthew 24:36, He said that “of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.” But “day and hour” is a very narrow slice of time. By giving us at least fifteen other specific signs that would be happening in the last days, Jesus clearly wanted us to know when the time of His return was rapidly approaching.

Why? He gave the answer in Matthew 24:42, when He said, “Therefore, be on the alert.” He reinforced the point in the next verse, when again He urged His followers to be “on the alert.” In Matthew 24:44, He stressed this critical point for a third time. “You also must be ready,” He insisted, “for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.”

Followers of Jesus Christ who study these signs are coming to the conclusion that they are being fulfilled today and that we are, in fact, living in the last days. They are, after all, living through revolutions, wars and rumors of wars, and horrifying persecution, for starters.

They have no idea precisely when Jesus will return, of course. But given how closely world events are tracking with Bible prophecy, they find themselves increasingly motivated to “be ready” by living lives of holiness, by sharing the gospel with Muslims and nominal Christians, by making disciples of all nations, and by planting new church congregations throughout the region.

That said, a final thought: while this month will not see the literal end of the world, is it theoretically possible that the Rapture could happen this month, even on 12/12/12? It is possible. I’m not saying it will happen that way. I have no idea. No one but God knows when the Ratpure will happen. But it could happen at any time. We should, therefore, be ready at any moment. How about you? Are you ready?

Have you ever heard of the “Four Spiritual Laws”? Would you like to read a clear and concise explanation of the gospel and know exactly what the Bible says you must do to be forgiven of your sins and spend eternity with God in heaven? Please click here for more information.

Damascus countdown: Is Syria about to use weapons of mass destruction? Could this trigger Biblical prophecies?

damascuscountdown-smallAre Syria’s leaders about to use weapons of mass destruction against Israel, and/or against their own people?

Here are the latest developments:

“Syria loads chemical weapons into bombs; military awaits Assad’s order,” reads an NBC News headline. Excerpts from the report: “The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said. As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the “precursor” chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs. Sarin is an extraordinarily lethal agent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin attack on Halabja in 1988.”

* U.S. weighs military options if Syria uses WMD (Navy Times)

* PM Netanyahu’s Remarks on Syria’s Chemical Weapons 

* Reports of Imminent Chemical Warfare Keep Syria Trending On Social Media (Fast Company)

In this context, is it possible that the Biblical prophecies regarding the future of Damascus come true in our lifetime? Are current events in Syria foreshadowing prophetic events? There are actually two key Biblical prophecies that explain that at unspecified time in the future, the city of Damascus will be completely destroyed — judged by God — and will not be inhabited again.

* Isaiah 17:1-3 — “The oracle concerning Damascus. ‘Behold, Damascus is about to be removed from being a city and will become a fallen ruin. The cities of  Aroer are forsaken; they will be for flocks to lie down in, and there will be  no one to frighten them. The fortified city will disappear from Ephraim, and sovereignty from Damascus….’”

* Jeremiah 49:23-27 — “Concerning Damascus. ‘Hamath andArpad are put to shame, for they have heard bad news; they are disheartened. There is anxiety by the sea, it cannot be calmed. Damascus has become helpless; she has turned away to flee, and panic has gripped her; distress and pangs have taken hold of her like a woman in childbirth. How the  city of praise has not been deserted, the town of My joy! Therefore, her young men will fall in her streets, and all the men of war will be silenced in that day,’ declares the Lord of hosts. ’I will  set fire to the wall of Damascus, and it will devour the fortified towers of Ben-hadad.’”

These prophecies have not yet been fulfilled. Damascus is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on earth. It has been attacked, besieged, and conquered. But Damascus has never been completely destroyed and left uninhabited. Yet that is exactly what the Bible says will happen. The context of Isaiah 17 and Jeremiah 49 are a series of End Times prophecies dealing with God’s judgments on Israel’s neighbors and enemies leading up to — and through — the Tribulation.

How exactly will Damascus be destroyed? When will exactly it be destroyed? What will that look like, and what will be the implications for the rest of Syria, for Israel and for the region? The honest answer is that the Bible does not say. I’m currently writing a novel entitled, Damascus Countdown, that envisions how these prophecies could come to pass. Damascus Countdown will be the third and final novel in the trilogy that began with The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. It can now be pre-ordered on the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, and many other Christian and general market bookstores.


Growing fears over Syrian use of WMD echo plot of forthcoming “Damascus Countdown” novel

damascuscountdown>> US, allies said to be prepared to ‘rapidly’ intervene if Assad utilizes chemical weapons

UPDATE: “Syria loads chemical weapons into bombs; military awaits Assad’s order,” reads an NBC News headline. Excerpts from the report: “The Syrian military is prepared to use chemical weapons against its own people and is awaiting final orders from President Bashar Assad, U.S. officials told NBC News on Wednesday. The military has loaded the precursor chemicals for sarin, a deadly nerve gas, into aerial bombs that could be dropped onto the Syrian people from dozens of fighter-bombers, the officials said. As recently as Tuesday, officials had said there was as yet no evidence that the process of mixing the “precursor” chemicals had begun. But Wednesday, they said their worst fears had been confirmed: The nerve agents were locked and loaded inside the bombs. Sarin is an extraordinarily lethal agent. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s forces killed 5,000 Kurds with a single sarin attack on Halabja in 1988.”

ORIGINAL POST: A terrible darkness is settling over the Middle East, and with each day that passes the likelihood of a major war in the Middle East in 2013 that could involve Israel, Iran and Syria appears to grow. The ayatollahs in Iran are continuing to pursue nuclear weapons. They’re preaching that the End of Days has come and that the so-called Islamic messiah known as the Twelfth Imam will be revealed soon to rule the Earth. Neither the U.S. nor the rest of the world seems willing to take decisive action to neutralize the threat. Israel is actively preparing to launch a preemptive military strike. But the world is pressuring Jerusalem not to strike. And Israeli leaders are also weighing the blowback they would receive once such a war began. The Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group in southern Lebanon has tens of thousands of missiles pointed at the Jewish State. A radical Islamic dictator is rising in Egypt. Jihadists have been firing rockets and mortars at Israel from the Sinai Desert. Hamas forces in Gaza just fired more than 1,500 rockets and missiles at Israel and are being resupplied by Iran. 

That said, senior Israeli intelligence sources are now saying the border with Syria could become “the hottest border in Israel” in 2013. We’re currently witnessing the slaughter of more than 40,000 innocent civilians by the bloodthirsty regime in Damascus. Israeli and Western intelligence agencies increasingly fear the Assad regime will use of weapons of mass destruction against Israel, and/or against their own people, and/or the Assad regime will fall and jihadist forces will gain control of Syria’s stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction and then focus on a War of Annihilation against Israel. The U.S. and Israeli governments are warning the regime in Damascus not to use WMD as this is a red line. “I want to make it absolutely clear to Assad and those under his command — the world is watching,” President Barack Obama said during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington on Monday. The use of weapons of mass destruction by Syria “is and would be totally unacceptable,” the President said, adding, “And if you make the tragic mistake of using these weapons, there will be consequences and you will be held accountable.”

Recent trends in the Middle East — notably the intensifying threat of Syria using weapons of mass destruction in combination with the growing Iranian nuclear threat — echo the plot of my forthcoming political thriller, Damascus Countdown, which will release nationwide on March 5, 2013.

What my novels do is ask what everyone is asking: What if all Hell breaks loose? What if these dark trends spin out of control? What would it look like if Israel does, in fact, launch a massive preemptive military strike against Iran? What would the retaliation look like if Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas fire back with tens of thousands of missiles raining down on Israel? And is it possible that such a horrific war could inadvertently set into motion End Times Bible prophecies, such as the prophecies in Isaiah and Jeremiah that indicate the city of Damascus will one day be utterly and completely wiped off the face of the earth?

In Damascus Countdown, all eyes are on the Middle East. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads—and causing the Twelfth Imam to order a full-scale retaliation. U.S. President William Jackson threatens to support a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression. Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attach and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. In danger not only from the ongoing missile strikes on Iran but also from the increasingly hostile and suspicious governments of multiple countries, David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes. And suddenly the city of Damascus becomes a strange and unexpected actor in the drama.

Will the prophecies regarding the future of Damascus come true in our lifetime? Are current events in Syria foreshadowing prophetic events?

Damascus Countdown will be the third and final novel in the trilogy that began with The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. It can now be pre-ordered on the websites of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, and many other Christian and general market bookstores.


Is America at the end? Magazine examines “Implosion” & interviews Christian leaders about Bible prophecy & how much trouble U.S. is really in

americaatend-graphic“What role will the United States play—if any—in the end times?” asks reporter Troy Anderson in the new issue of a Christian magazine.When New York Times best-selling author Joel C. Rosenberg tells audiences that America isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy, many are stunned and ask how the wealthiest, most powerful nation in history isn’t a specifically defined player in the last days. ‘The Bible doesn’t say what happens to us,’ Rosenberg says. ‘But by the absence of us being clearly defined in the text, it means something has happened. The question is what—what will happen to us that will neutralize our ability or desire to be an influential player in the last days of history before the return of Jesus Christ?’ In his recent book Implosion: Can America Recover From Its Economic and Spiritual Challenges in Time? Rosenberg outlines several potential scenarios he believes could explain why the United States isn’t mentioned in Bible prophecy: The nation—facing $16 trillion in federal debt and $120 trillion in total unfunded obligations—could implode economically, he hypothesizes. Perhaps the U.S. is hit by a surprise nuclear or military attack, blind-sided by a series of terrorist attacks or devastated by an unprecedented spate of natural disasters. America could suddenly lose tens of millions of people in the rapture, triggering any number of cataclysmic events. Or it could be a combination of these events…..”

Additional excerpts from the article:

Some prophecy teachers say the Bible makes direct references to America and argue that the U.S., or perhaps New York City, is “Babylon the Great”—the “great prostitute who sits on many waters” that is destroyed in one hour, according to Revelation 17 and 18. In these chapters, the apostle John wrote that the “Mother of Harlots and of the Abominations of the Earth” would be destroyed by fire, while the merchants of the earth who grew “rich through the abundance of her luxury” would “weep and mourn over her, for no one buys their merchandise anymore” (17:5; 18:3, 11).

Others have suggested the “merchants of Tarshish, and all their young lions” mentioned in Ezekiel 38:13 is a reference to the United Kingdom—whose Royal Coat of Arms includes a lion—and its offspring, America. Still others say the “great eagle” in Revelation 12:14 is America.

Rosenberg, LaHaye, Hitchcock, Perry and many other Bible prophecy teachers reject these arguments, however. And though Franklin Graham isn’t typically linked with these names, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and international Christian relief organization Samaritan’s Purse agrees the Bible doesn’t specifically mention the U.S.

The logical conclusion, Graham says, is that the scenarios Rosenberg has proposed are “certainly viable.” Graham is especially concerned about the nation’s “moral spiral downward,” noting that President Obama’s support of same-sex marriage essentially amounts to “shaking his fist in God’s face.”

“Look at the spiritual decline of this nation and where we are today,” Graham says. “Unless we repent as a nation and reverse course, I think God is going to bring quick and swift judgment on this nation.”

Also interviewed in the article: Franklin Graham, Anne Graham Lotz, Pastor Mark Hitchcock, Dr. Tim LaHaye, Jerry Jenkins, Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.

To read the full article, please click here.

In response to U.N. vote, Israel moves to build new homes on West Bank

“Israel decided Thursday to approve the construction of an additional 3,000 housing units in Jerusalem and the West Bank,” reports Ynet News. “In addition, the planning procedures of thousands of additional housing units in Jerusalem and the settlement blocs will be furthered, including in the segment connecting Ma’ale Adumim with Jerusalem, known as the E1 project. State officials said Israel was considering further moves in response to the United Nations General Assembly’s recognition of Palestine as an observer state. The decision was made by the government’s top nine ministers. A state official said the continuation of construction was done in accordance with the map of Israel’s strategic interests.”

At the same time, “the Jerusalem Municipality will reportedly fast-track approval for thousands of new homes in areas of the city east of the Green Line, including a much-disputed neighborhood in the city’s north and an entirely new neighborhood in the city’s south, Israeli media reported Monday night,” the Times of Israel reports. “The move will likely further exacerbate tensions that have arisen since Israel announced Friday it would step up settlement construction as a response to the Palestinians’ upgraded status at the United Nations. Some 1,700 units are scheduled for approval by the municipality in Ramat Shlomo, a largely ultra-Orthodox neighborhood on the northern outskirts of the city. The construction plans were initially okayed a year ago, during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.”

Simultaenously, Israeli “Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz stated Sunday morning that he would not transfer the tax payments collected on behalf of the Palestinian Authority this month,” reports Ynet. “The finance minister said, ‘I have no intention of transferring the tax payments to the PA this month. I plan to use them to offset the Palestinian debt to the Israel Electric Corporation.’ Steinitz referred to the Palestinian UN bid as a ‘provocation and an attempt to further a state without recognizing Israel, demilitarization or any security arrangements.'”

U.S. and European leaders have denounced Israel’s moves as obstacles to peace. The Jerusalem Post reports: “White House spokesman Jay Carney told a briefing that the US urged Israel to ‘reconsider these unilateral decisions and exercise  restraint, as these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution. We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and east Jerusalem  construction.’

Israeli officials, however, sound firm in their resolve to move forward with construction plans. “The  Palestinian unilateral moves at the UN are a blatant and fundamental violation of agreements to which the international community was a guarantor,” one Israeli official told the Jerusalem Post. “No one should be surprised that Israel is not sitting with its  arms folded in response to the unilateral Palestinian steps.”

Inside Israel’s Iron Dome system: why the cost of each interceptor is dropping fast

irondomeJust to be clear: I’m a huge fan of Israel’s “Iron Dome” rocket and missile defense system. It’s downright miraculous, and it’s saving a lot of lives, probably including my own.

As readers of this column know, my Joshua Fund colleagues and I were in Israel for the entire eight-day war with Palestinian terrorists in Gaza. Numerous times we heard the air raid sirens go off and had to run into bomb shelters with our Jewish and Arab friends. We also personally witnessed the Iron Dome system in action — its interceptors zig-zagging through the skies over Ashkelon, for example, at supersonic speeds and destroying the incoming rockets with earth-shaking booms. The results were stunning. The system destroyed about 421 of the 1,500 or so rockets fired at Israel, and with a success rate of some 90%. In the end, only six Israelis died during “Operation Pillar of Defense,” despite the near constant barrage of Palestinian attacks. Sadly, most of those were from fathers standing outside to watch the rocket war, while their wives and children were safely inside their bomb shelters.

The Israeli-designed system can determine whether a Palestinian rocket will land in an open field or on a house or business. If the former, Israel doesn’t fire an interceptor, thus saving money. If the later, Israel fires multiple interceptors to destroy the incoming rocket before it can do damage or kill. An interceptor in mid-flight that misses its target or isn’t needed automatically self-destructs so as to minimize further casualties. Understandably, Israelis are in love with the new system. They’re ecstatic that they have a new level of protection. They know the system is not perfect, but it’s better than they had in the last war, and they know it’s steadily improving and is making the job of Iran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad that much harder.

One of the issues my colleagues and I discussed while we were in Israel was the high cost of the Israeli interceptors. That’s why I was so intrigued this morning when I read a fascinating story in the Jerusalem Post about the Iron Dome. Consider:

  • ISRAEL’S COSTS PER INTECEPTOR ARE DROPPING: The Post noted that while the cost of each interceptor originally built for the system was between $40,000 and $50,000 a piece, most of those costs were R&D related. Now the cost of producing new interceptors is dropping fast as Israel produces more of them. “Iron Dome’s Tamir interceptors don’t really cost $40,000 to $50,000 each to manufacture,” reports the Post. “Like any high technology system, the vast majority of the costs of Iron Dome are systems development and manufacturing setup. These fixed costs are spread  over the number of items estimated to be manufactured and priced accordingly.  However, if the number of items produced substantially exceeds the initial  estimate, costs drop proportionately. The actual marginal cost of production of a Tamir interceptor is low and reflects the costs of the basic raw  materials; metal, fuel, explosives and electronic components used in its manufacture, and the labor required to run the assembly line. If the IDF ends up ordering 10 times as many interceptors as originally estimated, then their ‘cost’ will likely drop to around $5,000. At 100 times as many the “cost” will approach the marginal cost of less than $1000.”
  • THE IRON DOME’S SHOOT-DOWN ACCURACY IS IMPROVING: “Iron Dome is fundamentally a highly advanced computer system with a very rapid upgrade cycle,” reports the Post. “So far Iron Dome is matching pace with the iPhone for major software and hardware upgrades, and consequent performance  increases. This will not only continue but will actually accelerate in accordance with Moore’s Law and Ray Kurzweil’s Law of Accelerating Returns which state that the performance of computer systems increases exponentially with time. With each upgrade the interception rate will improve and the range of missiles it can intercept may also improve further. It is therefore that we can expect Iron Dome to reach a 95 percent or higher interception rate in the next year or two, and to continue to improve as the speed and processing power of the computers that make up its brain and eyes (radar) advance. The  practical upshot of this is that the number of rockets per Israeli fatality has risen from 50-75 (Lebanon and Gaza pre-Iron Dome) to 300 in 2011 (75%  interception) and around 500 in 2012 (90% interception), despite Hamas using  more lethal rockets.”
  • IRAN’S AND HAMAS’S COSTS PER ROCKET — AND PER ISRAELI KILLED — ARE SOARING: “The real cost of  the rockets and missiles which Iron Dome intercepts is vastly underestimated by most commentators,” the Post asserts. “Grad rockets may well cost Iran only $1,000 each on the open market, but this is not the delivered cost to Hamas in Gaza. The supply line from Iran to Gaza is an extremely convoluted and expensive one which  involves huge losses from IAF action bombing convoys and factories in Sudan, and  interception by western navies. Large bribes have to be paid at every step of the way, particularly to the Beduin in Sinai and the Egyptian soldiers in Rafah who are supposed to be stopping the smuggling. And the losses continue once the Grad gets to Gaza, with the IDF regularly destroying rocket caches. Thus, 1,000 Grads, which cost Iran $1 million to purchase, may end up as 300  Grads which cost a further $2 million in ‘delivery charges.’ This turns a $1,000 Grad rocket in Iran into a $10,000 Grad rocket in Gaza….The strategic implications are that the current rocket-based terror strategy of Hamas and Hezbollah has been rendered both  ineffective and economically unsustainable. I estimate it is currently costing  Hamas (and thus its patron Iran) around $5 million (500 rockets at $10,000 each) to murder a single Israeli. When Iron Dome reaches 95% interception rate these figures will double and at 97.5% they will double again.”

We could all wish the Iron Dome system — and Israel’s newly-developed system to shoot down medium-range missiles, known as “David’s Sling” — weren’t needed. But they are. Let’s keep praying for peace and security for Israel and her neighbors. But let’s also be grateful for all the scientists and engineers that developed these system, for the leaders who had the foresight to insist that they be built (including Ronald Reagan who was ridiculed for insisting upon the development of missile defenses), and for the American taxpayers who have been helping to foot some of the bills.

IAEA reveals new evidence Iran is pursuing a 50-kiloton nuclear bomb, three times as powerful as bomb dropped on Hiroshima

New evidence discovered by the IAEA shows Iran is continuing to pursue nuclear weapons. “A leaked diagram suggesting that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon is scientifically flawed, diplomats working with the UN nuclear agency conceded Friday,” reports the Associated Press. “However they insisted that it still supports suspicions that Tehran is trying to build a bomb, especially when combined with other documents that remain secret. The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing the document leaked by officials from a country critical of Iran’s atomic program, that it indicated that Iranian scientists had run computer simulations for a nuclear weapon that would produce more than triple the explosive force of the World War II bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The diagram showed a yield of 50 kilotons….The diagram was disclosed to AP in an attempt to bolster arguments that Iran’s nuclear program must be halted before it produces a weapon. The officials who leaked it provided what they described as a computer model of blast calculations only on condition that they and their country not be named. In its report, AP said the curve of the diagram peaks at just above 50 kilotons at around 2 microseconds, reflecting the full force of the weapon being modeled. The bomb that destroyed the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II had a force of about 15 kilotons.”