DeSantis says Florida has sent drones, weapons, ammo to Israel amid war on Hamas

Governor says US state has also sent healthcare supplies, body armor and helmets, in move seen as potentially bolstering him in GOP primary race

Republican US presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a meet and greet, October 14, 2023, in Creston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)
Republican US presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis speaks during a meet and greet, October 14, 2023, in Creston, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall, File)

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, a candidate in the 2024 Republican primary in the United States, said Thursday that he had arranged to send drones, weapons and ammunition to Israel as it prepares for a ground incursion in Gaza in response to Hamas’s brutal October 7 onslaught.

It was the latest official response DeSantis has taken to back Israel. Florida has sent cargo planes with healthcare supplies, drones, body armor and helmets, said Jeremy Redfern, a spokesman for the governor’s office. The US state also worked with private groups to supply weapons and ammunition at the request of Israel’s consul general in Miami, Redfern said.

Redfern would not disclose the type or amount of ammunition and weaponry, referring questions to the consul general, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

DeSantis has often applied his official powers to take actions that coincide with his larger political goals. Florida used state funds to fly migrants from Texas to Democratic-led areas such as Martha’s Vineyard. And earlier this week, his administration ordered state universities to disband chapters of a pro-Palestinian student group over support for the Hamas terror group.

Since war erupted between Israel and Hamas on October 7, Florida has also run flights for about 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 speak Saturday morning to a Nevada Republican group at a casino resort on the Las Vegas Strip.

DeSantis and other GOP presidential contenders have largely lined up behind Israel and accused US President Joe Biden of not doing enough to support the Israelis. DeSantis has swiped at former US president Donald Trump, the heavy frontrunner in the 2024 primary, and former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley over Israel as well.

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

The White House’s National Security Council and Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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