Declassification criteria of classified archival materials deposited at the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive
In line with regulation 7 of the access regulations approved in 1966 (henceforth: the regulations), access to archival matter stored in the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive is limited. The archival subject matters and limitation schedule were set in an addition to the regulation. Thus, a 50 year limitation schedule was set for archival material dealing with foreign and defense issues of the Ministry of Defense, the IDF, and any other branch of the Ministry of Defense.
In line with regulation 7b, it is possible to declassify archival matters after a limitation period shorter than fixed in the regulations, with the approval of the depositor. In line with the regulations, classified materials would not be declassified before being scanned, even if the limitation schedule has passed.
The IDF and Defense Establishment Archive began declassifying defense materials in 1989, after a committee appointed by the Minister of Defense prepared a document approved by the then Minister of Defense, setting declassification criteria of the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive materials from the years 1948 – 1956. These declassification criteria of archival materials deposited at the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive were updated several times, in order to permit declassification of other subjects, lastly, on behalf of the Minister of Defense, in June 2002. In the framework of the update, the criteria for materials created until 1967 were broadened. The new criteria also apply to archival materials created after 1967.
The archival materials from the above mentioned years, excluding such that would very likely cause a real injury to the state's security and foreign relations, or to any right of privacy, will be methodically declassified, due to the decision to declassify as much archival material as possible, in line with the terms specified henceforth. Materials containing one or more of the subjects detailed henceforth, shall not be classified.
A declassification team, authorized by defense entities, is working at the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive, carrying the responsibility to implement the criteria during the declassification.
In case of any doubt or need of clarification, the declassification team's head should raise the subject with the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive's manager, who will consult with various entities, among them, the entity that created the materials, or that for which they are relevant. Their opinion will be presented to the chief information security officer at the IDF and to the Director of Security at the Defense Establishment. The chief information security officer in the IDF and the Director of Security at the Defense Establishment, are the entities authorized to classify and to declassify documents. In subjects raising legal issue, the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive will seek legal advice if necessary.
Intelligence materials relevant to the General Security Services, the Mossad and the Intelligence Branch may be declassified by these entities only. The Intelligence Branch authorized to IDF and Defense Establishment Archive to declassify materials on its behalf in line with the criteria detailed here.
A researcher may appeal a decision to classify certain archival materials, the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive and the defense establishment shall examine the appeal, lest scrutinizing was wrongly limited.
No archival material will be declassified, whose exposure may in high probability cause a real damage to the state security.
No archival material will be declassified, whose exposure may in high probability cause a real damage to the state foreign relations.
No archival material will be declassified, whose exposure may in high probability cause a real damage to the public safety, public order or the safety or wellbeing of a person.
No archival material will be declassified, whose exposure may injure the right of privacy.
Archival material whose declassification may in high probability cause a real damage to the state security.
Intelligence material exposing the activities of the General Security Services, the Mossad, the Intelligence Branch, or Director of Security at the Defense Establishment.
Intelligence material whose declassification exposes sensitive intelligence sources in Israel or abroad, or their modus operandi.
Information pointing to intelligence gathering methods still having security importance.
Information which exposes operational planning or ideas, which may influence existing and valid operational planning or ideas still having security importance.
Information about a special doctrine, classified means of war, operational vulnerabilities, preparedness for war.
Information about defense and national infrastructures, and vulnerabilities of systems and installations still having security importance.
Information about cooperation with foreign intelligence and defense entities, still having security importance.
Information which may immediately endanger a person or his family.
Archival material, whose exposure may in high probability cause a real damage to the state foreign relations
Information about secret Israeli international relations, which both states committed to keep secret.
Information about a foreign state, whose declassification may injure Israel's relations with that country, or may undermine current diplomatic activities in cooperation with that state.
Information whose declassification will constitute a breach of contract, pact, agreement, or international contracts.
Information which may in high probability assist Arab States or the Palestinian Authority in peace or damages claims negotiations.
In any case of information related to Israel's foreign policy, declassification will be done in line with the criteria used by, and in coordination with the state archives.
Archival material, whose declassification may injure the right of privacy
Personal data, including criminal records, verdicts given in camera, disciplinary trials, commissions of inquiry and Investigating Military Police reports, medical files, letters, personal applications of members of the public to official entities, containing personal data, or any data specified as private in the Protection of Privacy Law – 1981.
Personal information of public interest will be declassified with no details which might serve to identify.
Archival matters created post 1967
Declassification of archival matters created post 1967 will be subject, in addition to the limitations and criteria above, to the following limitations and criteria, with modifications required by the type and the essence of the material retained in the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive:
Archival matter about:
IDF order of battle, units or installations' names and numbers, locations of units or installations not yet published, and their declassification may cause real damage to the state's security;
The IDF order of battle, whole or part, including changes thereto, planes associated with the IDF's power generation plans, strengthening or cutting down thereto, as well as details about the UDF's structure and units;
Location or architecture of military or defense installation, fixed or temporary, as well as the locations of IDF units;
IDF's operations and operational plans, including those already executed, delayed, or changed;
Operational doctrines, IDF's training and exercise methods, and their very existence;
Operational qualifications of IDF units;
Stock levels of IDF's equipment;
Emergency plans and means of the defense establishment and the Prime Minister Office;
Reserve mobilization system and methods;
Defense foreign relations or export, including information about the defense establishment's foreign delegations and their activities, common activities of the defense establishment with foreign entities, and data concerning information, equipment, materials, and knowledge obtained or delivered due to these relations or activities, or obtained clandestinely;
Development and purchase of means of war;
Budgetary and other quantitative data, from which information may be derived concerning the subjects detailed in paragraphs 18 – 27.
MIA Accounting, excluding whoever has a personal interest in the information, was appointed to it, and subject to the rules set for it;
Identities and personal details of defense establishment officials or associates, which are barred from publication by the authorized defense entities;
Any other information still having security importance, whose declassification may cause real damage to the state's security, to its foreign relations, or to any right of privacy.
Any archival matter considered a debriefing material, as implied by article 539a of the military-justice law – 1955, will not be classified unless 10 years have passed since its retention in the IDF and Defense Establishment Archive.