Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said on Thursday he has arranged to send drones, weapons and ammunition to Israel as it prepares for an incursion of Gaza in response to Hamas’ attack, The Associated Press reported.
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 supply unspecified amounts of weapons and ammunition that were privately funded, Redfern said.
DeSantis, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination in next year’s election, is a known supporter of Israel and has taken several actions to show that support.
Two weeks ago, shortly after the war with Hamas began, the Florida Governor announced legislation that would prohibit the state from doing business with companies that support Hamas and other terrorist organizations.
"In Florida, we don’t capitulate to state sponsors of terrorism. We sanction them. My legislative proposal ensures Florida will not do business with companies that support terrorist groups like Hamas. I urge other states to follow Florida’s lead," he wrote on X.
Earlier this week, DeSantis’ administration ordered state universities to disband chapters of the pro-Palestinian Arab student group Students for Justice in Palestine.
DeSantis has also been critical of the Biden administration’s attitude towards Israel. In July, the Florida Governor responded to then-US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides, who had said that the Biden administration is trying to stop Israel from “going off the rails” with the overhaul of its judicial system.
DeSantis tweeted in response, “How disrespectful for the US Ambassador to Israel to falsely claim 'most Israelis want the United States to be in their business.'”
“Biden meets with dictators of countries such as Venezuela but snubs the democratically elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This is not how you should treat an ally," added the Florida Governor.
It is unclear whether DeSantis coordinated the shipments of any weapons with the Biden administration. The Commerce Department regulates the shipment abroad of many types of US weapons and technology, noted AP.
“It is not illegal for the governor of a state to offer a measure of foreign assistance to another 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.”
A Commerce Department spokesman said the department was working to “appropriately expedite applications for assistance to Israel” and was in close contact with the Israeli government, but said he could not provide details on particular transactions.