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Google sacks 28 employees over Israel protest

Google employees protest
Several Google employees were arrested in the course of their protest at the company's offices

Google has sacked 28 employees who protested the technology giant’s work for the Israeli military by staging sit-ins at the company’s US offices.

The staff were sacked after demonstrations at Google offices in New York and Silicon Valley, in which nine were arrested after refusing to leave.

Google is facing protests over its work providing cloud computing services and artificial intelligence software to the Israeli government through a programme known as Project Nimbus, which is reportedly worth up to $1.2bn (£1bn).

On Tuesday, dozens of staff wearing T-shirts saying “Googler against genocide” unfurled banners and posed inside the office of Thomas Kurian, the head of Google’s cloud computing division.

They held signs with slogans including “no more genocide for profit” and “no cloud for apartheid”.

Protesters occupied the office of Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian
Protesters occupied the office of Google Cloud chief Thomas Kurian - https://x.com/MPower_Change/status/1780294091198079129

The protests were organised by the campaign group No Tech For Apartheid, which broadcast them on the streaming site Twitch.

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On Wednesday Google said that the staff were immediately placed under investigation and had their access to IT systems shut off, and that 28 were fired.

Chris Rackow, Google’s head of security, wrote: “The overwhelming majority of our employees do the right thing. If you’re one of the few who are tempted to think we’re going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again.

“The company takes this extremely seriously, and we will continue to apply our longstanding policies to take action against disruptive behaviour – up to and including termination.”

He said the behaviour was “unacceptable, extremely disruptive, and made co-workers feel threatened”.

One employee who was fired, Kate J Sim, wrote on Twitter: “McCarthyism is alive and well. Look how terrified they are of worker power.”

The No Tech For Apartheid group said: “This flagrant act of retaliation is a clear indication that Google values its $1.2bn contract with the genocidal Israeli government and military more than its own workers.”

Google has faced repeated protests over its military work. Last month the company fired Eddie Hatfield, an engineer, after he interrupted a speech by Google’s head of Israel, shouting: “I refuse to build technology that powers genocide.”

The company had previously faced multiple protests over its work with the US military and opted not to renew an AI contract with the Pentagon in 2018.

Google said that its contract with the Israeli government involves “generally available cloud computing services”, adding: “This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”