Amazon stays silent on employee held hostage in Gaza


The tech giant has refused to issue a statement calling for the release of its AWS engineer Sasha Troufanov.

Sasha Troufanov was taken hostage during the October 7 atrocities. He was abducted along with his parents Yelena and Vitali, his grandmother Irena and his partner Sapir Cohen. His father has since been murdered while his partner, mother and grandmother were all returned to Israel last week.

Troufanov has worked as an engineer in Amazon's AWS cloud division for more than a year and although he has been held in captivity for almost two months Amazon has remained silent on the matter. Nvidia has behaved differently regarding its employee Avinatan Or who was also taken hostage by Hamas on October 7. In an email sent to employees in October, Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang mentioned Or and said that the company was in close contact with his family and was praying that he would return home.

In order to raise awareness about Troufanov's plight and provoke a response from Amazon, his friends attended an AWS conference last week in Las Vegas. His friends hired trucks on which they put pictures of Troufanov and handed out tee shirts at the conference with a picture of Troufanov and the slogan "I wish I were here." Troufanov was part of the team which developed one of the new products that was launched at the conference.

"The hostages are not a political matter"

"Our aim is not to lock horns with Amazon," Neta Yessod Alon tells "Globes." She is a good friend of Troufanov, and one of those behind the campaign to raise awareness about his plight and bring about his release. "We wanted to propose that the company join us. From our perspective, Amazon can take credit for everything we do and say that it was what they had done. But in practice, nobody at the company has spoken to us."

She adds, "We have tried through the highest levels at Amazon to ask that they issue a statement. What we found out is that the company hired an external consultant, and the consultant said that in his opinion it is wrong to publicize that Sasha works at Amazon because it could hurt him."

Alon says, "We took this information to the former head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, and he said there was no validity in it, for two reasons. Both due to the fact that the information that Sasha works at Amazon is information that is already out there, and also from the point of view that this fact, the mere fact that he is employed by Amazon, is not at all relevant for Hamas."

Alon continues, "It's not that we think that Amazon as a company can directly put pressure on Hamas. But the company's ability to make a statement that an employee has been kidnapped and that all the hostages must be returned is important. The hostages are not a political matter. It's not about deciding for a moment which side you stand on the political map, this is a humanitarian issue and therefore we require the support of the company. As one of the largest tech companies, if Amazon were to issue a statement, we assume that smaller companies would also feel comfortable expressing a position. In the end, we are talking here about a segment of the population with a lot power and a lot of money, and although they don't have access to talk directly with Hamas, they have the power to exert international pressure for the release of the hostages."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on December 4, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

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