Home News Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, Announces Shipment of Weapons to Israel

Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, Announces Shipment of Weapons to Israel

Ron DeSantis, Florida Governor, Announces Shipment of Weapons to Israel

MIAMI — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he has arranged to send drones, weapons, and ammunition to Israel because it prepares for an incursion of Gaza in response to Hamas’ attack. It’s the newest official response DeSantis has taken to support Israel as he competes within the 2024 Republican primary.

Florida has sent cargo planes with healthcare supplies, drones, body armor, and helmets, said Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for the governor’s office. The state also worked with groups to provide unspecified amounts of privately funded weapons and ammunition, Redfern said.

DeSantis’ announcement led to confusion between the governor’s office and an Israeli diplomat in Florida. The governor’s office said it acted on the request of Israel’s consul general in Miami. But Maor Elbaz-Starinsky, the consul general, said he didn’t request drones, body armor, or helmets, nor had he talked to the governor about help getting weapons or ammunition through private parties.

“Nothing went through me,” Elbaz-Starinsky said. “We were never in communication on any shipments of arms or ammunition. The one thing that I actually have handled sending is medical supplies.”

After being asked about Elbaz-Starinsky’s comments, Redfern reiterated that the governor’s office was contacted by the consul general.

DeSantis has often utilized his official powers to take actions that align along with his larger political goals. Florida used state funds to fly migrants from Texas to Democratic-led areas similar to Martha’s Vineyard. And earlier this week, his administration ordered state universities to disband chapters of a pro-Palestinian student group. Since Hamas’ October 7 attack, Florida has also facilitated flights for roughly 700 Americans evacuated from Israel.

The confirmation of the military aid comes as DeSantis and other GOP presidential contenders are expected to attend the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual gathering of donors, which kicks off Friday in Las Vegas. DeSantis is scheduled to talk Saturday morning to a Nevada Republican group at a casino-resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

DeSantis and the opposite candidates have largely expressed support for Israel and accused President Joe Biden of not doing enough to help the Israelis. DeSantis has also criticized former President Donald Trump, the frontrunner within the 2024 primary, and former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley over their Israel policies.

It’s unclear whether DeSantis coordinated shipments of any weapons with the Biden administration. The Commerce Department regulates the shipment abroad of many varieties of U.S. weapons and technology.

“It will not be illegal for the governor of a state to supply a measure of foreign assistance to a different country,” said John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council. “There are laws and regulations which govern how the export process is handled, and that’s all done through Commerce. I couldn’t speak with authority today about whether the governor has checked all those boxes or not.”

The Commerce Department didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.

The export of military equipment typically requires a license or another authorization from either the Commerce or State Departments, depending on the precise item, said Thomas Krueger, a lawyer on the Akin Gump law firm who makes a speciality of international trade and previously served because the director of strategic trade and nonproliferation on the White House’s National Security Council.

“It really all will depend on the specifications of the items themselves to find out what sort of export authorization can be required,” Krueger said.


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