Google fires 28 staffers who held protests against Israel cloud contract

No Tech for Apartheid group calls company's action a 'flagrant act of retaliation'

'Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies,' Google said. AP
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Google has fired 28 employees who engaged in protests against Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion joint contract with Amazon that would provide the Israeli government and military with artificial intelligence and cloud services.

The protests, led by the No Tech for Apartheid organisation, took place on Tuesday across Google offices in New York, Seattle and Sunnyvale in California.

Several workers involved in the protests received a message from the company’s employee relations group informing them that they had been put on leave.

On Wednesday evening, the workers were informed they were being dismissed, according to a statement from Google staff with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign.

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behaviour,” Google said in a statement.

No Tech for Apartheid, in a statement carried by Medium, called Google's action a “flagrant act of retaliation” and said the company had fired people who did not directly participate in the protests.

It added that the company's claim that the protests were part of a long-standing campaign by groups and “people who largely don’t work at Google” was untrue.

The protest came a day before the Israeli government approved its five-year strategic plan to transition to the cloud under Project Nimbus and expand digital services, according to Bloomberg.

No Tech for Apartheid said that Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion contract awarded to Google and Amazon in 2021 to supply the Israeli government with cloud services, supports the development of military tools.

Israel’s Defence Ministry and military were listed in a government statement as partners in Project Nimbus, along with other government offices.

In its statement, Google said the Nimbus contract “is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services”.

Updated: April 18, 2024, 8:08 PM