The Middle East franchisee of Starbucks announced on Tuesday it has begun firing around 2,000 workers at its coffee shops across the region after the brand found itself targeted by activists amid the war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, The Associated Press reported.

The Kuwait-based Alshaya Group, a private family firm holding franchise rights for a variety of Western companies, issued a statement acknowledging the firings at its Middle Eastern and North African locations.

“As a result of the continually challenging trading conditions over the last six months, we have taken the sad and very difficult decision to reduce the number of colleagues in our Starbucks MENA stores,” the statement read, as quoted by AP.

Alshaya later confirmed it was firing about 2,000 employees.

Alshaya runs about 1,900 Starbucks branches in Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and United Arab Emirates. It had employed more than 19,000 staff, according to the Seattle-based company. The layoffs represent just over 10% of its staff.

Starbucks has been targeted by pro-Palestinian Arab activists over the war in Gaza. The company prominently has been trying to counter what it describes as “ongoing false and misleading information being shared about Starbucks” being spread online.

“We have no political agenda,” Starbucks said. “We do not use our profits to fund any government or military operations anywhere — and never have.”

In October, Starbucks sued Starbucks Workers United (SWU), which has organized workers in at least 370 US Starbucks stores, over a pro-Palestinian Arab message posted on a union social media account.

The lawsuit was filed after SWU tweeted, "Solidarity with Palestine."

Starbucks does not currently operate any stores in Israel. The company had six locations in Tel Aviv between 2001 and 2003, when it shut down its operations in Israel.