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Google workers arrested after protesting company’s giant deal with Israel

A sign is pictured outside a Google office near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, US. (Photo by Reuters)

Police have arrested nine Google employees at the tech giant’s offices in New York City and Sunnyvale, California, after they staged an hours-long sit-in in protest against the company’s recent billion-dollar deal with the Israeli regime.

The protesters entered the offices on Tuesday, demanding that Google drop the $1.2 billion contract that provides Israel with cloud and machine learning services, known as Project Nimbus.

The employees who participated in the sit-ins wore shirts that said “Drop Project Nimbus”, as they held a banner reading “No tech for genocide.”

No Tech for Apartheid group which organized the protest said the protesters sat in the office of Google Cloud Chief Executive Thomas Kurian in Sunnyvale and remained there for about 10 hours.

The New York protest occupied a common area on the tenth floor of Google's Chelsea location.

A video taken by one of the protesters and shared with The Washington Post showed they were given the opportunity to leave voluntarily, and then arrested by police after refusing to do so.

Bailey Tomson, a Google spokesperson, said, “Physically impeding other employees’ work and preventing them from accessing our facilities is a clear violation of our policies, and we will investigate and take action.”

“These employees were put on administrative leave, and their access to our systems was cut. After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety,” she added.

Google workers had previously staged rallies in front of the company’s offices in various cities, demanding an end to its cooperation with the Israeli regime.

Back in March, Google fired an employee who staged a protest against the tech giant’s cooperation with Israel in its war against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The employee, who has identified himself as a cloud software engineer, stood up during an event in New York City, disrupting the speech of the managing director of Google Israel, Barak Regev.

He denounced Google for being complicit in the apartheid regime’s months-long war against the Palestinians in Gaza.

Under the $1.2-billion Nimbus contract, Google (Google Cloud Platform) and Amazon (Amazon Web Services) were selected to provide Israeli agencies with cloud computing services, including artificial intelligence tools and machine learning.

Google workers are raising concerns about the misuse of the company's AI and cloud computing tools for surveillance, military targeting, or weaponization.

No Tech for Apartheid has censured Google and Amazon for playing a role in the genocidal attacks on Gaza by partnering with Israel in the billion-dollar agreement. The organization demands that “companies immediately cancel Project Nimbus and end their complicity in Israel’s war crimes.”

Current and former Google workers also say that they are fearful of speaking up internally against Project Nimbus or in support of Palestinians, due to what some described as fear of retaliation.

This comes as the contract terms reportedly prohibit Google and Amazon from blocking specific entities, such as the Israeli military, using their services, and ending the contract in response to public pressure.

However, the movement seems to be gaining momentum amid international call for ending whatsoever support to Israel that could be used against the people of Palestine.   

Israel’s military assault on Gaza, which began after the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas carried out Operation Al-Aqsa Storm against the usurping entity in retaliation for the regime's intensified atrocities against the Palestinian people, has added new fuel to the internal opposition to Project Nimbus.

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