Contract shows Google Cloud deal with Israeli military amid war on Gaza

Contract shows Google Cloud deal with Israeli military amid war on Gaza
A draft contract dated 27 March shows Google providing services to the Israeli army and negotiating to deepen its partnership during the war on Gaza.
3 min read
13 April, 2024
Google has come under fire for allegedly assisting Israel in a war on Gaza that has killed over 33,000 Palestinians [Getty]

A document viewed by Time shows that Google provides cloud computing services to the Israeli military, with the tech firm negotiating to deepen its partnership with Tel Aviv during the war on Gaza.

A draft contract dated 27 March shows the military having its own "landing zone" in Google Cloud. This zone is a secure entry point to Google-provided computing, allowing the military to store and process data and access AI services.

The army has also sought Google's consulting assistance to expand its cloud access, seeking to allow "multiple units" to access automation technologies. Google has billed over $1 million in consulting fees but provided a 15 percent discount due to the "Nimbus framework".

The document says Google's consulting services are to "assist with architecture design, implementation guidance, and automation" for the army's Google Cloud landing zone.

The contract describes "phase 2" of a broader project to develop the army's cloud architecture. According to TIME, the contract says for "phase 2" of the project, the army wants "to enable its Landing Zone to serve multiple units and sub-units" and "would like to create several different automation modules within their Landing Zone based on Google's leading practices for the benefit of different units, with proper processes to support, and to implement leading practices for security and governance architecture using Google tools".

Phase 1 is not described but does refer to earlier work in which Google established "a Google Cloud Landing Zone infrastructure as part of their overall cloud strategy and to enable [the Ministry of Defense] to move applications to Google Cloud Platform."

While the contract was not signed by either Google or the military, a comment on the documents by a Google employee requested an executable copy of the contract, noting that the signatures would be "completed offline as it's an Israel/Nimbus deal".

Google and Amazon signed a $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli government and military to provide Israeli authorities with AI and cloud storage facilities – Project Nimbus. This led to a group of anonymous employees from the tech giants signing a letter published in the Guardian denouncing the move.

Israel has been accused of using AI to select military targets in Gaza and of using Palestine as a testing lab for its surveillance and spying technologies, which it then sells worldwide.

An investigation carried out by +972 Magazine and Local Call revealed the military has been using an AI tool known as 'Lavender' to identify targets across Gaza and direct their bombing campaign.

While the contract did not specify what military applications the army uses Google Cloud for, there is no evidence the technology is used for targeting purposes. However, Google employees told Time that the giant cannot monitor what customers, especially sovereign nations like Israel, are doing with its cloud infrastructure.

Google's consulting services for the Israeli military are estimated to start on 14 April and will take one year to complete.