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19 Apr, 2024 02:32

Google fires anti-Israel employees

The employees were dismissed after staging sit-ins at the company’s offices
Google fires anti-Israel employees

Google has fired 28 workers who protested against the company’s ties with the Israeli government amid the war in Gaza. The US tech giant claimed that defiant employees were disrupting the normal work process. 

“Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the media on Wednesday. “After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety.”

According to tech publication the Verge, a group of employees occupied the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale, California on Tuesday, while another group staged a sit-in for eight hours in the company’s office in New York. Disgruntled workers also demonstrated outside several Google campuses.

The activist group behind the demonstrations – No Tech for Apartheid – described the firings as illegal and “retaliatory.” They claimed that the sit-ins “did not damage property or threaten other workers,” and had “received an overwhelmingly positive response and shows of support” from colleagues.

Some employees have been publicly speaking out since 2021 against Project Nimbus, a large cloud computing contract Google and Amazon signed with the Israeli government. Time magazine reported this month that Israel’s Defense Ministry has a security entry point to Google Cloud and its AI services.

The Israeli military’s ties with big tech have faced additional scrutiny after +972 Magazine and news website Local Call cited intelligence sources in early April as saying that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is using a secret AI program called Lavender to identify human targets during the war with Hamas in Gaza. Although the IDF stated that such programs are “merely tools for analysis” and that it does not rely on AI to pick targets for strikes, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “deeply troubled” by the report.

Multiple human rights groups have accused the IDF of indiscriminately killing civilians in Gaza, where nearly 34,000 Palestinians have died since October 7, according to local authorities. The Israeli army admitted to accidentally killing seven foreign humanitarian workers during April 1 drone strikes on an aid convoy. The IDF cited misidentification and other errors as causes of the tragedy, and said that it had dismissed two senior officers involved in the strikes. 

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