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The Israeli technology sector closes ranks in the face of the war with Hamas

The Israeli technology sector closes ranks in the face of the war with Hamas

The Israeli technology sector, which represents almost half of the country’s exports, has closed ranks since the beginning of the conflict with Hamas on October 7, with many companies trying to help civilians.

Eran Orr, CEO of the American-Israeli company XRHealth, returned to Israel a few days ago after the attack launched by Hamas on October 7 that sparked a war in which thousands of civilians died in Israel and Loop.

His company, created in 2016, develops virtual reality headsets used for therapeutic purposes. He just offered hundreds of them to hospitals in Israel to help survivors suffering from post-traumatic stress, because “there is an urgent need and there are not enough mental health specialists,” explains Orr, contacted by phone by AFP.

”We are trying to obtain donations to implement these solutions among people who need them, even in their homes,” says the businessman, who is seeking $3 million to “equip 2,000 homes directly affected by the attacks.”.

The examples multiply in a country that has no less than 7,500 technology companies, according to Start-Up Nation Central (SNC)an Israeli NGO that connects investors and young entrepreneurs.

Last year, the technology sector represented 18% of the country’s GDP, 14% of the salaried population and even 48% of exports. ($71 billion).

From program development to electronic chip production, all the major international players are present, attracted by this rich ecosystem. But with the war the objectives changed.

Since October 7, more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities. Among the dead there are more than 300 soldiers.

On the Palestinian side, the Ministry of Health of Hamas announced that the bombings launched in retaliation killed more than 7,000 people, the vast majority of them civilians.

Respond to immediate needs

In these circumstances, “we must respond to immediate needs. We must see how to use our technology to find a solution,” explains Avi Hasson, director of SNC.

”We use the power of technology to help the country, for example by quickly creating platforms to make donations for people who need them,” details Merav Bahat, co-founder of the cybersecurity company Dazz and without news of her husband’s cousin, one of the more than 200 kidnapped in Israel by Hamas on October 7.

Wix, an important Israeli website creation platform, is part of a group of emerging companies that created an initiative in a few days to connect the technological community with the needs of the population. Two hundred and ninety Israeli companies have already volunteered.

Among the requests is the implementation of virtual panic buttons to speed up the process of calling security forcesWix details in an email to AFP.

All of these initiatives require reorganization in a sector in which many employees are reservists. SNC estimates that 15% of the personnel were summoned and therefore are far from the offices.

In Trullionan accounting firm assisted by artificial intelligence, “10% of the troops were summoned. Most are on active military duty and are located right on the border, near Loop and to the north, near Lebanon,” details President Isaac Heller, who settled in Israel with his family five years ago.

”We maintain daily contact with them,” he details.

To continue its activity, the company relies on employees located abroad: “the New York team works overtime. In the space of one night we became a family,” says the businessman.

What impact will the conflict have on the development of the sector in Israel?

In recent months, funding for startups had already been drastically reduced around the world, against a backdrop of economic slowdown, according to SNC’s Hasson.

Current events “certainly pose a challenge, but I doubt there is a single investor who has not taken this factor into account when investing in Israel,” he says.

Reporting its quarterly results on Thursday evening, US chip giant Intel announced that its factory in Israel remained open.

”I am not afraid for the technology sector. I am afraid of the humanitarian crisis, whether it is the more than 200 hostages detained by Hamas, or the Palestinian people of Loop”Laments Heller.

Source: Gestion

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