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Tech Industry

Intel Haifa staff work among the chaos

As blasts hit Israel's tech center, Intel employees and others continue laboring--on a limited basis.

Missiles are landing in Israel's tech center, but people are still working.

Companies with development offices in Israel's northern city of Haifa have not shut down, but they are taking extreme precautions. Intel has moved employees in Haifa, which is located about 20 miles south of the Lebanese border, into a bomb shelter equipped with Wi-Fi, an Intel Israel representative told Reuters.

Intel's Haifa offices are located near the beach in the same office park as Royal Philips Electronics, Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft and others. The government has not ordered a mandatory curfew in the city, which was hit by a barrage of Hezbollah rockets on Sunday.

"Work is still going on, and we don't see any impact on output."
--Kobi Bachar, Intel Israel spokesman

Intel has also put into place "business continuity" plans, company spokesman Chuck Mulloy said. In addition to its Haifa research and development center, where approximately 2,400 employees work, Intel has offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, and operates a plant at Kiryat Gat.

The fab is toward the center of the country. News reports in the region, nonetheless, have speculated that some missiles could reach central Israel. So far, missiles have hit 45 kilometers south of Haifa. Tel Aviv is about 100 kilometers south of Haifa.

Employees can work at home, too, Mulloy said.

"Those working from home have connections and laptops with wireless, so there is no problem with connectivity," Intel Israel spokesman Kobi Bachar told Reuters. "Work is still going on, and we don't see any impact on output."

Meanwhile, the Technion Israel Institute of Technology, an in Haifa that serves as a feeder school for the tech industry, has ordered everyone to stay home. On Sunday, when a bomb hit the city, killing eight people, 500 students were in the middle of exams and were told to evacuate the campus.

"In view of the rocket attacks on Haifa, all Technion campus activities are suspended until further notice. Students and workers are requested not to come to the Technion campus until further notice," the university's Web site stated.

Although Technion is shut, it is likely that researchers at the university will continue to work, as the school often works tightly with governmental agencies. When the 1973 Yom Kippur War erupted, the Israeli army asked a couple of Technion professors to come up with a way to scramble the guidance systems of incoming Russian-made missiles that were pummeling some towns, Technion spokesman Amos Levav said during an interview at the campus two weeks ago. The mission was accomplished in a couple of days.

Missiles started falling on Northern Israel on Thursday, a day after Hezbollah, a guerilla group, abducted two Israeli soldiers and killed eight others in a cross-border raid. Israel has launched a major military offensive in response. Most cafes and stores in the 270,000-person city of Haifa are closed, and the streets are fairly empty, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The government has urged people to be aware of the location of bomb shelters, reinforced rooms or buildings in the interior of offices with no windows. In the event that an alarm sounds, individuals have about a minute--at most--before a missile lands.

Reuters contributed to this report.