Skip to main content

War on Gaza: Google fires dozens of employees protesting controversial Israeli contract

Employees were dismissed for staging sit-ins against Project Nimbus, a $1.2bn partnership with Amazon that will provide cloud computing and AI services to Israel's government and army
The Google logo adorns the outside of their office building in New York City, on 3 June 2019 (AFP)

Tech giant Google fired dozens of employees on Thursday who took part in protests at the company's US offices against its controversial cloud-computing and AI contract with the Israeli government and army.

Google said it fired the 28 staff members because they were "physically impeding other employees' work" as they held sit-ins at Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian's office in Sunnyvale, California, and Google offices in New York City.

"A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a few of our locations," Google said in a statement.

"Physically impeding other employees' work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and completely unacceptable behavior.

"After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety," it added.

Stay informed with MEE's newsletters

Sign up to get the latest alerts, insights and analysis, starting with Turkey Unpacked


In a statement on Medium, Google workers affiliated with the No Tech for Apartheid campaign, which organised the protests, called it a "flagrant act of retaliation" and said that some employees who did not directly participate in Tuesday’s protests were also among those that Google fired.

"Google workers have the right to peacefully protest about terms and conditions of our labor," the statement said.

The employees had specifically hit out at Project Nimbus, a $1.2bn agreement for Google and Amazon to supply Israel and its military with cloud computing and AI services.

The project, announced in 2021 by Google and Amazon, provides advanced artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to Israel’s government.

'Googler Against Genocide': Tech giant orders arrest of workers protesting contract with Israel
Read More »

Since then it has sparked backlash among some Google workers who have condemned Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. That criticism has resurfaced amid Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 33,000 Palestinians, mainly women and children.

"Google execs basically chose to arrest workers for speaking out against the use of our technology to power the first AI-powered genocide," Google software engineer Mohammad Khatami, one of the protestors arrested in New York, told Democracy Now.

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

Protests at Google are not new. In March, Google fired an employee who shouted, “I refuse to build technology that empowers Genocide” during a presentation in New York City by Barak Regev, Google’s Israel managing director.

And in December, Google staff members and No Tech for Apartheid held a vigil in London for software engineer, Mai Ubeid, who was a graduate of the Google-funded coding boot camp, Gaza Sky Geeks, and in 2020 was part of the Google for Startups accelerator programme.

Ubeid was killed on 31 October along with her entire family in an air strike during Israel's war on Gaza.

Middle East Eye delivers independent and unrivalled coverage and analysis of the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. To learn more about republishing this content and the associated fees, please fill out this form. More about MEE can be found here.