The Israel State Archives database contains descriptions of records from the Ottoman period, the British Mandate period, and the State of Israel and its various institutions. The records and their descriptions are organized according to the respective bodies that created them.
For your information: the navigation aids and much of the material available on-line are in Hebrew.
The Ottoman Administration
A very small number of records from the Ottoman administration remain in Israel, for example the archives of the Jerusalem district governor Ali Ekrem Bey, 1906-1908; the population registry (known as nufus), public notary papers, etc. The Israel State Archives also holds the archives of the German consulate and the British consulate in Palestine from this period. These records complement the governmental records of the Ottoman period.
The British Mandate
A small part of the records from the British administration during the period of the British Mandate have remained in the Israel State Archives. The Archives has also carried out a large-scale project of copying onto microfilm documents stored in the British National Archives (Public Record Office). Among the files copied are the major parts of the Colonial Office, Foreign Office and Cabinet files relating to Palestine.
The State of Israel
The main body of records in the Archives database naturally relates to the State of Israel: descriptions of records of government ministries, other government agencies and the judicial system. The database also contains private archives.
The Archives database also includes special collections from various periods. Among these are map collections, collections of photographs and audio-visual material.
For further information on the structure of the database, click here.
Another section of the Archive database contains the collection of official publications issued by state institutions.
Access to the material
Users should keep in mind that access to the material in the Israel State Archives is given according to the Archives Law -1955 rather than according to the Freedom of Information law. According to the Archives Law and its regulations, access to all records is available for research purposes. The period of limitation on records is usually 30 years, but the ministry depositing the records may determine a shorter timeline for single files or for entire series of files. Personal records are sealed for 70 years. IDF and defence establishment records are usually sealed for 50 years. Stenographic records of government meetings and ministers' committees are sealed for 40 years. Stenographic records of the ministerial committees on security issues are sealed for 50 years. Records of local authorities are disclosed to the public after 20 years, and minutes of Knesset committee sessions are declassified and disclosed after 25 years, except for minutes of the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee which are sealed for 30 years.
For more information on the declassifying process at the Israel State Archives, click here.
In any case, the Israel State Archives reserves the right to examine any item of information before making it available to the public.
Current state of the database
Please keep in mind that the archival information available online and presented on the website is only part of the database maintained by the Israel State Archives. The Archives will continue to update and expand the database over time, and will eventually be able to display all unrestricted information to users. To access the rest of the records open to the public, please make use of the reading room in the Israel State Archives building.