Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has made an unusual move by sending a shipment of drones, body armor, and helmets to Israel, as well as organizing the transport of weapons and ammunition to the Jewish state from a private supplier. This comes as President Joe Biden attempts to push a funding bill for Israel and Ukraine through Congress.
According to a spokesman for DeSantis, the delivery was organized following a request by Israel’s consul general in Miami, Maor Elbaz-Starinsky. However, Elbaz-Starinsky has denied making such a request, stating that he was never in communication regarding any shipments of arms or ammunition. He clarified that the only thing he had dealt with sending to Israel were medical supplies.
Despite Elbaz-Starinsky’s denial, DeSantis’ spokesman insisted that the governor worked with the Israeli diplomat to “help get weapons and ammunition to Israel through private parties.” However, it remains unclear how DeSantis participated in the delivery, as a CNN source mentioned that Florida did not directly transport these weapons and ammo.
The supplies were said to have left Florida for Israel last Tuesday, although the legality of the governor’s actions has been questioned. White House spokesman John Kirby stated that it is not illegal for the governor of a state to offer foreign assistance, but there are laws and regulations governing the export process through the Department of Commerce.
Foreign aid, especially military aid, is typically the responsibility of the federal government. The Pentagon has already flown multiple shipments of arms, ammunition, and equipment to Israel since the conflict with Hamas began. President Biden is currently urging Congress to pass a $14 billion package of military aid for Israel, which he has linked to $61 billion in funding for Ukraine. This move has faced opposition from Republican lawmakers.
Governor DeSantis has taken independent actions in support of Israel since the conflict started, such as arranging charter flights to transport Americans home from Israel, sending medical supplies, and ordering Florida universities to ban the Students for Justice in Palestine organization. However, these actions have not improved his poll numbers, according to a recent USA Today survey. Only 12% of Republican voters support DeSantis as their party’s nominee for president, while 58% favor former President Donald Trump.
In conclusion, Governor Ron DeSantis has sent a shipment of military supplies to Israel and organized the transport of weapons and ammunition from a private supplier. The motives behind his actions and the extent of his involvement remain unclear, as conflicting statements have been made by Israeli officials and DeSantis’ spokesperson. This move raises questions about the legality of state-level involvement in foreign aid and highlights the ongoing debate surrounding military funding for Israel and Ukraine.