The IDFA and Defense Establishment Archive

​​​The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Establishment Archive is the main historical archive of the IDF and the Defence establishment, as well as their storage center.

The archive is a unique and major repository of Israel's defense activities, constituting one of the main elements in preserving the collective memory and the defense legacy of Israel's society.

Besides the defense subjects, the archive stores documentation on a wide variety of issues and subjects that have been engaging Israel's society such as:  education, culture, medicine, economy, settlement, physical planning, etc.

The archive serves the IDF and the Ministry of Defense in their daily work, as well as for research, drawing conclusions, disseminating battle heritage and for legal purposes. 

The archive is a unit within the Ministry of Defense, subordinated to the deputy defense minister and to the head of the IT Branch. It is located at Yaakov Dori St., Kiryat Ono (Tel-Hashomer military base), near the Recruiting Center and Haim Israeli House.

The Archive's history

The Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment was established in July 1948, during the War of Independence, by a directive of the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, David Ben Gurion. The first General Staff order in regard of the archive directed, inter alia, that: "All non-operational material of the IDF should be transferred to the archive by August 31, 1948."

In his instruction to the archive manager, on December 19, 1948, Ben Gurion Wrote: "The army's archive will draw materials not only from the IDF and its predecessors in Israel (the defense of Jewish settlements since the establishment of Petah-Tiqvah, Ha'shomer, the Jewish Legion, the Haganah and all its branches), but on the history of Jewish self-defense in the Diaspora, the participation of Jews in national and international liberation wars, and on Jewish participation in developing military art and technics."

Thus, in the spirit of Ben Gurion's instruction, the Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment stores archival materials dealing with pre-state defense entities and organizations, including the "Haganah," the "Palmah," "The National Military Organization – IZL" and "The Fighter for Freedom of Israel – Lehi." It is worth noting that the "Haganah Archive​,' consisting an organic part of the Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment archive, contains important documentation about the "Haganah," the British Mandate period the War of Independence and the establishment of the IDF.

In addition, the Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment stores the Lehi archive, transferred by the Lehi NGO. The Palmah House in Ramat Aviv hosts an information center and archive, including books, films, testimonials, and photographs about the Palmah and its members from its establishment to its dismantling.

It should be noted that most IZL materials are stored at the Beit Jabotinsky archive.

Major milestones in the archive's history

From 1948 to the beginning of the sixties, the Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment resided in Esther Ha'Malka St. in Tel-Aviv.

In 1961 the foundation stone was laid for the archive's facility in Givataim, where the Haganah's "Va'adi Slick' still exists. At this period, a repository was established in Jaffa, where the IDF's Museum would eventually be established.

In 1984, a facility was inaugurated in Tel Hashomer Military Base, used mainly for storage, while the offices and some warehouses remained in Givataim. In 2003, the archive's offices and warehouses were moved to the Tel Hashomer facility, and another archive installation was inaugurated in Zerifin.


Documentation in the Archive

The Archive of the IDF and the Defence Establishment stores approximately 14 million files, 4.5 million photographs, 55,000 maps and aerial photographs, 100,000 audio recordings, 80,000 video recordings and 2,700 posters and proclamations.

IDF and Defense Establishment Documentation

Each unit, from a battalion upwards, archives its documentation, reflecting in effect all IDF activities since 1948. The materials cover, inter alia, operational aspects, organization, technology, military doctrines, instruction, logistics, education, and settlement. ​

Additional documentation

Institutional deposits (of special units)

Personal deposits (of senior officials)

Deposits of support units (partial)

Special collections: The Jewish Combatant Collection, in the World Armies and Undergrounds; Jewish volunteers in the British Army (From the 19th century)

Documentation from Jewish settlement in mandatory Palestine: The Haganah, IZL, Lehi.

Materials plundered from enemy armies in various wars.

The Press: The military press index, military press, journals and bulletins.