Home Computing Google Contract Deal With Israel Defense Ministry Gaza War

Google Contract Deal With Israel Defense Ministry Gaza War

Google has been providing cloud computing services to the Israeli Ministry of Defense, and there are indications that the partnership was set to deepen during Israel’s conflict in Gaza, as revealed in a document seen by TIME. According to the document, the Israeli Ministry of Defense has its dedicated entry point, termed as a “landing zone,” within Google Cloud. This secure access allows the ministry to utilise Google’s computing infrastructure for data storage, processing, and accessing AI services.

In a draft contract dated March 27, 2024, the ministry sought consulting support from Google to expand its usage of Google Cloud. The objective was to enable “multiple units” within the ministry to leverage automation technologies. The contract outlined Google’s consulting fees, exceeding $1 million, billed to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.

It’s important to note that the contract seen by TIME was not finalised with signatures from either Google or the Ministry of Defense. However, a comment dated March 27 on the document, made by a Google employee requesting an executable copy of the contract said that the signatures would be “completed offline as it’s an Israel/Nimbus deal.” Google also gave the ministry a 15 per cent discount on the original price of consulting fees as a result of the “Nimbus framework.”

What Is Project Nimbus

Project Nimbus refers to a contentious cloud computing and AI deal worth $1.2 billion involving the Israeli government and two tech giants, Google and Amazon. Earlier reports from the Israeli media have suggested that Google and Amazon are legally obligated not to obstruct certain branches of the Israeli government from utilising their technology as part of Project Nimbus. However, this is the first instance where a contract revealing that the Israeli Ministry of Defense is a client of Google Cloud has come to light.

Google recently described its work for the Israeli government as primarily for civilian purposes. A Google spokesperson told TIME, “We have been very clear that the Nimbus contract is for workloads running on our commercial platform by Israeli government ministries such as finance, healthcare, transportation, and education. Our work is not directed at highly sensitive or classified military workloads relevant to weapons or intelligence services.”

The recent revelation follows reports in the Israeli media suggesting that the nation’s military, overseen by the Ministry of Defense, employs an AI-driven system to identify targets for air strikes in Gaza. This type of AI system typically necessitates cloud computing infrastructure to operate. The contract between Google and the Israeli Ministry of Defense, as reviewed by TIME, does not specify the specific military applications, if any, for which Google Cloud is utilised by the Ministry of Defense. There is no indication that Google Cloud technology is used for targeting purposes. However, Google employees, speaking with TIME, mentioned that the company has limited ability to monitor the activities of customers, particularly sovereign entities like Israel, on its cloud infrastructure.

Neither of the parties has so far commented on the matter.

The Israeli Ministry of Defence’s trying to onboard more units to Google Cloud is described in the contract as “Phase 2” of a bigger project which aims at building out the ministry’s cloud architecture.

Phase 2

The document refrains from explaining in detail about Phase 1 however, it does refer to earlier work carried out by Google on behalf of the ministry. As per the contract, the ministry “has [already] 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.”

It added that the Ministry for the “Phase 2” “is looking to enable its Landing Zone to serve multiple units and sub-units. Therefore, [the Ministry of Defense] 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.”

As per the contract, the consulting services that Google will offer are for the tech company to “assist with architecture design, implementation guidance, and automation” for the Ministry of Defense’s Google Cloud landing zone. As per the estimate, this is to kickstart on April 14 and will take a year to complete.

As per TIME, two Google workers resigned last month as a mark of protest against Project Nimbus.



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