From Rabin's Assassination to Eichmann Trial: Thousands of Files Missing From Israel's State Archive

Loss of the files, which include documents relating to major events in the country’s history was revealed in response to a freedom of information request

Ofer Aderet
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Documents about the missing Yemenite children affair at the Israel State Archives, 2016.
Documents about the missing Yemenite children affair at the Israel State Archives, 2016.Credit: Ofer Aderet
Ofer Aderet

Roughly 10,000 files, including some containing historic documentation of important events in the country’s history, have disappeared from the Israel State Archives, with their whereabouts unknown.

Among the missing material are documents pertaining to the 1995 assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the murder in 1933 of Zionist leader Chaim Arlosoroff, the trial in Israel of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann and the Yom Kippur War.

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The loss of the files was reported Thursday by the Israeli journalism and media website The Seventh Eye, based on information obtained in a freedom of information request from the non-profit public interest group Hatzlacha.

The new revelations come two years after a report in Haaretz that 40 files on the alleged abduction of immigrant children from Yemen had gone missing from the archives. A source at the archives told Haaretz at the time that it was not rare for files to disappear, but that rather than being a deliberate act, it was evidence of human error or shortcomings in the archives ongoing work.

Now, through its freedom of information request, Hatzlacha has obtained an official list from the archives of the missing files. A review of the list reveals that among the items that have gone astray are five files used by the Shamgar Commission in its official commission of inquiry on the Rabin assassination. The files included the non-classified minutes of the investigation, as well as police documents.

The missing files on the 1933 assassination of Arlosoroff included material from a 1982 commission of inquiry in the case, while among the missing material from the 1961 prosecution of Adolf Eichmann were documents from the Israel Police and the State Prosecutor’s Office.

One file was described as containing information relating to Eichmann and the Muslim grand mufti of Jerusalem during the pre-state British Mandate, Haj Amin al-Husseini, on preventing Jewish immigration to Palestine.

Files from the trial of Ukrainian-born auto worker John Demjanjuk, who was extradited to Israel from the United States in 1986 to face Nazi war crimes charges, are also missing. They included recordings and documents from the State Prosecutor’s Office.

Also unaccounted for are files dealing with the time in office of elected officials, including Prime Ministers Golda Meir, Ariel Sharon and Prime Minister and President Shimon Peres. The list of missing files includes information on gifts and memorabilia that Rabin received and the meeting diary of President Reuven Rivlin from when he was speaker of the Knesset. 

There are also files missing from the so-called Holyland affair, which landed former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in jail for corruption, and a large number of files from the Nativ intelligence agency that are unaccounted for. Also on the archive’s list was what was described as a file on “an umbrella agreement on cooperation on the nuclear issue.”

The freedom of information request by Hatzlaha came at the initiative of the group’s legal adviser, Elad Man, after he discovered that a file that he sought to review had disappeared.

As of press time, the State Archives had not provided a response for this article.

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