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DeSantis is sending some weapons to Israel in move that could bolster him in the GOP primary

Florida Governor and the other Republican candidates have largely lined up behind Israel and accused President Joe Biden of not doing enough to support the Israelis

Ron DeSantis
Republican presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis waves during a campaign event in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, October 20, 2023.RANDALL HILL (REUTERS)

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he’s arranged to send drones, weapons, and ammunition to Israel as it prepares for an incursion of Gaza in response to Hamas’ attack. It’s the latest official response DeSantis has taken to back Israel as he competes in 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 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. Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, 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 the other candidates have largely lined up behind Israel and accused President Joe Biden of not doing enough to support the Israelis. DeSantis has swiped at former President Donald Trump, the heavy front-runner in the 2024 primary, and former South Carolina governor and United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley over Israel as well.

Daryl Kimball is the executive director of the Arms Control Association, a non-partisan group focused on nuclear and conventional weapons control. He noted the president controls the import and export of defense articles and services. If he does not issue a license, exportation is not permitted under federal laws.

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