Google Reportedly Fires 28 Staff Members Over Israel Cloud Contract Protests: 'Majority Of Our Employees Do The Right Thing'

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to include the response from Google’s spokesperson regarding employee termination and Project Nimbus.

Following protests over its Israeli government cloud contract, Google‘s parent company Alphabet Inc GOOGL GOOG has terminated 28 employees. This decision comes after nine workers were initially suspended and then arrested.

What Happened: The employees were fired after participating in sit-in protests at Google’s New York and California offices. The protests were against Google’s involvement in Project Nimbus, a $1.2 billion Israeli government cloud contract that also includes Inc, reported The Verge citing an internal memo.

The terminated employees were involved in a protest at the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian, which led to their forcible removal by law enforcement. This incident follows the firing of another employee for protesting the contract during a company presentation in Israel.

In a memo to all employees, Chris Rackow, Google’s head of global security, stated that such behavior has no place in the workplace and will not be tolerated. He also warned that the company would take further action if necessary.

"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 behavior — up to and including termination," said Rackow.

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The “No Tech for Apartheid” group, which organized the protests, labeled Google’s firings as a “flagrant act of retaliation.” The group claimed that they have not received any response from Google executives despite organizing against Project Nimbus for three years.

"These protests were part of a longstanding campaign by a group of organizations and people who largely don't work at Google. A small number of employee protesters entered and disrupted a few of our locations. 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. We have so far concluded individual investigations that resulted in the termination of employment for 28 employees, and will continue to investigate and take action as needed," said Google spokesperson, in an email response to Benzinga.

“We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial cloud by Israeli government ministries, who agree to comply with our Terms of Service and Acceptable Use Policy. This work is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services," the spokesperson added.

Why It Matters: This incident follows a series of events related to Google’s Project Nimbus. A day before, several Google employees were arrested and placed on administrative leave after staging sit-ins at the company’s offices in New York and California to protest the $1.2 billion cloud contract with Israel.

These protests have drawn attention from prominent figures, with venture capitalist Marc Andreessen and Tesla Inc CEO Elon Musk criticizing Google’s handling of the situation.

The ongoing conflict over the Israeli contract has also coincided with a period of heightened tensions between Israel and Iran, with a recent escalation of missile and drone attacks by Iran on Israel.

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Photo by Arthur Osipyan on Unsplash

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