Google has terminated 28 employees who were involved in protests against the company's $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government. This contract, known as Project Nimbus, involves providing cloud and artificial intelligence services to Israeli government and military entities. The dismissals followed a series of sit-ins at Google's offices in Seattle, New York, and Sunnyvale, California, which included a prolonged protest in the office of Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian.

The protests, organized by the group No Tech for Apartheid, have highlighted deep divisions within Google regarding its business dealings. The demonstrators, who wore shirts and displayed banners reading "No more genocide for profit," were arrested after they refused multiple requests to vacate the premises, leading to law enforcement intervention to maintain office safety.

Google's stance on the protests and the subsequent firings has been firm. The company issued a statement emphasizing that physically impeding other employees' work and preventing access to facilities constituted a clear violation of company policies. "After refusing multiple requests to leave the premises, law enforcement was engaged to remove them to ensure office safety," a Google spokesperson stated.

The contentious Project Nimbus began in July 2021 and has since been a point of contention not only among Google employees but also within the broader tech community. Critics argue that the services provided under this contract could be used in ways that harm Palestinians, an assertion that has fueled ongoing protests and debates about the ethical implications of technology contracts with governments.

In response to the firings, No Tech for Apartheid criticized Google's actions as "indiscriminate" and accused the company of valuing its contract with the Israeli government over its employees' rights to peaceful protest. The group also alleged that the firings were an attempt by Google to avoid addressing their concerns directly.

Google, however, has defended its contract, stating that the work "is not directed at highly sensitive, classified, or military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services." The company maintains that all Israeli government ministries using its commercial cloud services must adhere to its terms of service and other policies.

The internal response at Google has also been significant. An internal memo from Chris Rackow, Google's vice president of global security, underscored the company's commitment to its policies. "If you're one of the few who are tempted to think we're going to overlook conduct that violates our policies, think again," Rackow warned, indicating that Google will continue to take such breaches seriously.

This series of events at Google reflects broader tensions in the tech industry over how companies should handle contracts with governments that might involve ethical or human rights concerns. As the debate continues, the actions taken by Google could have lasting implications on employee activism and the role of major tech companies in global geopolitics.