Tech firms are starting to see their employees in Israel drafted to fight with the military as it builds up forces near the Gaza Strip and prepares for the next phase of retaliation against Hamas.
(Bloomberg) — Tech firms are starting to see their employees in Israel drafted to fight with the military as it builds up forces near the Gaza Strip and prepares for the next phase of retaliation against Hamas.
Cybersecurity firm Armis, based in San Francisco, has seen about 20 employees — roughly 15% of its Israeli staff — drafted, said Nadir Izrael, the company’s chief technology officer. “The expectation is that will go up,” Izrael said. “Most drafts are for combat duty.” Software company Monday.com said about 5% of its 1,000-person staff has been drafted.
Shmuel Chafets, the Tel Aviv-based co-founder and chairman of the venture capital firm Target Global, said that he had volunteered with the Israeli military. People working for Target Global’s portfolio companies, chief executive officers and developers alike, have enlisted or have been conscripted to the war as well, he said.
The war has engulfed much of Israel’s civilian workforce, which includes a large concentration of tech workers and venture capitalists. Tech has been among Israel’s fastest-growing sectors in recent decades, with the nation emerging as a cybersecurity powerhouse. The industry accounts for an estimated 10% of its workforce.
Chafets’ firm is one of the country’s largest, overseeing around €3 billion ($3.2 billion) across its funds and investing in startups across Europe. Other international companies with employees in Israel have found their employees conscripted. VC funds with a presence in Israel have pledged donations to Israel and humanitarian work.
Over the weekend, Hamas, designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe, launched a surprise incursion across southern Israel, since killing at least 1,000 Israelis, mostly civilians. At least 600 Palestinians have been killed in retaliatory attacks. Israel has now announced its largest-ever mobilization, more than 300,000 army reservists. Overnight, the country struck the Gaza Strip and is building a base to accommodate thousands of soldiers.
Chafets, 41, is a prominent venture capitalist and oversees Target’s early-stage practice. He said he volunteered with Israeli forces, as he is too old to be conscripted, and was deployed near Israel’s border with the Gaza Strip. He withheld additional details citing security.
“We are seeing hundreds of thousands of people getting out of their lives, getting into uniform,” Chafets said in an interview with Bloomberg TV on Monday. “People have been rushing into military service.”
Read More: Israel Latest: Army Stops Lebanon Incursion, Calls Up 300,000
Before he became an investor, Chafets worked in Israel’s parliament and government, including for Likud, the right-wing political party currently led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But he said he now opposes Netanyahu’s politics. It is “the government that clearly led us to this disaster,” Chafets said in an email.
Read More: Why Gaza Is the Epicenter of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: QuickTake
“As far as the companies are concerned, everybody has made arrangements to try to keep the businesses running, to have business continuity,” Chafets said. “I think we will be able to operate as close to normal as possible even during the war.”
Izrael similarly said that Armis continues to maintain all critical operations. “There are more people affected,” he said, “because family members are drafted or are in harm’s way.”
–With assistance from Paayal Zaveri and Todd Shields.
More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.