​The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Establishment Archive, stores more than 10 million files. Most of them were archived by various IDF units, some by the Ministry of Defense entities. Half of those are subject files, the other half are personal files.

Subject files

Are collections of incoming and outgoing documents relating to some topic. In 1958 a "Unified Filing Key" was introduced in the IDF's offices, and since then all subject files are dealing each with a specific subject. The filing key covers 23 major subjects expressing the main activities taking place in the military offices.

There are of course sub-subjects, however, many units do not use all possibilities offered by the key, and make do with recording their files by the major subjects: supply, logistics, religion, instruction, engineering, air force, education, ordnance, law, navy, personnel, finances, operations, intelligence, IT, administration, regimen and policing, promotion and classification, communication and electronics, medical, transportation, terms of service.

It should be noted, that in recent years, following the computerization of the offices, filing does not always follow the proper keys.

Subject to P.M 30.0601, each unit transfers its files to the archive with an inventory attached. The Archive inventory includes all inventories received from the units. In most cases, all inventories are stored in the archive's computer system.

Not all documentation created in the IDF is archived. Files including documents with short retention times are destroyed in the units, subject to the archive's approval. Other files are destroyed in the archive years later.

The file data received from the unit are: unit's name, file's subject, and dates of the earliest and latest documents (inclusive dates), unit's file symbolization, and security classification. The archive adds, in the archiving process, a file archive unique identifier, and physical address in the warehouse.

The identifier is composed of three parts from right to left: archiving year, in four digits; annual serial number, file number within a shipment.

Occasionally the archive improves a file's data by adding an abstract to facilitate the locating of documents. When a file is examined by the "declassification team" or scanned into the computer, a declassification and scanning statuses are recorded in the computer system.

The archive makes little use of the term "Material Bulk:" all files received from a specific unit are considered a unique material bulk, regardless of inclusive dates. ​

Service of subject files

The database of the Israel Defense Forces and Defense Establishment Archive is amenable to a reasonable level of spotting of most requested documentation.

Public service is offered in two modes:

The first: independent search of files which are open to the public, via the reading room system. Archive employees guide applicants, assist them, and if needed even locate files.

Currently there are 50,000 files opened to public scrutiny.

As of now, scrutiny is only possible on the archive's premises, but we intend to establish an online reading room.

The second: a data search by the archive employees. Sometimes it is required because the requested materials, or parts of them, are not yet open to public scrutiny.

The reading room's computer system makes it possible to locate classified files, and request their use approval. Such requests are first examined in the "Public Scrutiny Unit." The unit's employees may select other files for declassification, or offer alternative files. The classification team examines the files and decides whether to declassify them or not.

A file's classification status fixed by the classification team may be opened (all materials open to public scrutiny), mixed (some documents or details are still classified), or classified (the whole file is closed to public scrutiny).