Google employees stage sit-ins to protest company's contract with Israel

Dozens of Google employees held sit-ins Tuesday at the tech giant’s New York City and Sunnyvale, Calif., offices to protest the company’s work with Israel.

Google and Amazon have a cloud computing and artificial intelligence contract with the Israeli government and military, a deal known as Project Nimbus that is worth $1.2 billion.

The employees participating in the sit-ins wore shirts that said “Drop Project Nimbus” and a banner was hung that read, “No tech for genocide.”

Protesters sat in the office of Google Cloud Chief Executive Thomas Kurian on Tuesday and remained there for about 10 hours, according to the group.

They demanded Google and Amazon drop Project Nimbus and stop the “harassment, intimidation, bullying, silencing, and censorship” of Palestinian, Arab, Muslim Google workers who have expressed concerns about company’s work in Israel and the Gaza war.

On Tuesday night, Google ordered the arrest of nine workers in Sunnyvale and New York, who were told they would be locked out of their accounts and offices and were not expected to return to work until contacted by HR, according to a statement from the No Tech for Apartheid campaign.

Google last month fired a worker who protested a speech by Google’s top executive in Israel at a conference in New York.

“As a Software Engineer in Google Cloud, it is horrifying to think that the code I write could be used by the Israeli Military in the first ever AI powered genocide,” said Google Cloud software engineer William (Billy) Van Der Laar from Sunnyvale in a statement. “We did not come to Google to work on technology that kills. By engaging in this contract leadership has betrayed our trust, our AI Principles, and our humanity.”

Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Google told Time magazine this year that its Nimbus contract is for workloads related to Israeli government ministries such as finance, health, transportation and education.

“Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services,” a Google spokesperson told Time.

Other tech workers, including at Amazon, have voiced concerns about their employers’ involvement in Project Nimbus.

The protests in the tech industry have escalated in the wake of Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip in response to the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas-led militants in which about 1,200 people were killed and about 240 taken hostage.

More than 33,000 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed in Israel’s air and ground offensive, according to Gaza health officials.

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