Leading Israeli tech entrepreneurs and investors have withdrawn from next month’s Web Summit, Europe’s largest tech conference, after the event’s founder appeared to accuse Israel of committing “war crimes” in response to the Hamas terror group’s devastating onslaught.
A number of Israeli-founded tech unicorns and startups, including Wiz, Taboola, Lightricks, Bright Data, AI21 Labs, OpenWeb, and startup accelerator Y Combinator, have already announced their withdrawal from the tech conference, which is held in Lisbon, Portugal, every November and attracts around 70,000 industry leaders, venture capitalists, and startup hopefuls.
The controversy began after Paddy Cosgrave, CEO of Web Summit, posted on social media platform X on Friday that he was “shocked at the rhetoric and actions of so many Western leaders and governments” relating to the Israel Defense Force’s military operation across the Gaza Strip aimed at dismantling its ruler, Hamas.
Six days earlier, on Saturday, the terror group launched a shock assault on southern communities in Israel, killing some 1,300 people, mostly civilians including babies and the elderly, injuring more than 4,000, and taking about 200 captives.
“War crimes are war crimes even when committed by allies, and should be called out for what they are,” Cosgrave asserted.
In an effort to put pressure on Hamas to free its hostages, Israel has mostly refrained from allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. In advance of a ground operation, it has also urged residents of northern Gaza to leave their homes and move south.
In the meantime, US President Joe Biden will visit Israel during a time of war on Wednesday, marking the most recent instance of Washington’s unwavering support for Jerusalem in the wake of the Hamas attack.