Executives and employees at Israel's startups are joining the fight against Hamas

"Israel is resilient and so are its startups," one CEO said.

October 13, 2023, 9:36 AM

Israel’s government is mobilizing 360,000 reservists as the nation responds to the sudden attack by Palestinian militants.

Global companies with a presence in Israel are moving quickly to safeguard their employees and come up with contingency plans if needed. Bank of America, for example, has decided to temporarily close its offices in Tel Aviv, while other banks including JPMorgan Chase and Goldman Sachs have instructed their employees in Israel to work from home. The computer chip giant Nvidia has canceled this month's AI Summit in Tel Aviv.

The businesses feeling the brunt of the war’s impact are Israeli tech startups, where many young executives and employees are joining the fight.

That could be a potential blow to the country’s tech sector, which accounts for about one-fifth of the Israeli economy.

Omer Keilaf, CEO and co-founder of Innoviz Technologies, said business is continuing at his Israeli-based company that makes LiDar sensors and software for industries including the auto sector.

"Almost half of the team is still working in the office. The other half is continuing from home," Keilaf told ABC News.

While he declined to give a specific number, he said "many" of his 500 employees have been called up to fight in the war.

PHOTO: Omer Keilaf, CEO and co-founder of the Israeli-based tech startup Innoviz Technologies.
Omer Keilaf, CEO and co-founder of the Israeli-based tech startup Innoviz Technologies.
David Garb/Innoviz Technologies

It's estimated that most Israeli startups are seeing 10% to 30% of their workforces mobilized in the war, according to Avi Eyal, co-founder and managing partner of global venture firm Entrée Capital.

"Israel is resilient and so are its startups," Eyal told ABC News. "Startups are both maintaining their businesses and have been contributing tremendously to the war effort. The outpouring of support is unlike anything I have ever seen."

Keilaf and his team at Innoviz Technologies are donating bullet proof vests and other equipment to help keep their employees safe on the front lines.

"The guys that are drafted are actually reporting high morale, which makes me very happy to hear. It helps me to bring up my morale because it's important that they feel safe," said Keilaf.

His company remains in constant contact with his employees.

"I ask all of the team leaders to talk at least once a day on the phone, not texting, with one of their team members to hear their voice, to understand what's going on, and to see if they need any help," he said. "I think we’ll manage. We are probably the most resilient country in the world, so I’m not worried."

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