Diplomat contradicts DeSantis claims on shipping weapons to Israel

Diplomat contradicts DeSantis claims on shipping weapons to Israel

An Israeli diplomat says the office of Florida governor Ron DeSantis is exaggerating its role in sending emergency supplies as the nation continues its war with Hamas.

"At the request of the Israeli Consul General in Miami, cargo planes contracted by Florida were used to transport healthcare and hospital supplies, drones, body armor, and helmets that first responders can use," the governor’s office said earlier this week in a statement.

That’s not quite the case, according to Maor Elbaz-Starinksy, Israel’s consul general in Miami.

"This is not how I would describe it," he told Reuters.

Instead, he said, the governor’s office helped send medical supplies which had been requested by the health ministry and was one of the US officials Israel contacted to ensure a flight carrying rifle parts was able to leave Miami.

"I am not aware and would find it very, very bizarre to think that somebody is procuring weapons and sending it to Israel," Mr Elbaz-Starinsky told the wire service. "This is not how we work. And certainly not privately funded."

The governor’s office later told the outlet in a statement Mr DeSantis "was contacted by the Consul General’s office for assistance to clear federal bureaucratic hurdles associated with getting those items to Israel."

Federal officials said it’s legal for states to send aid to outside countries. Exports of weapons and ammunition, however, require specialised licensing.

“It is not illegal for the governor of a state to offer a measure of foreign assistance to another country," John Kirby, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said earlier this week. "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.”

Mr DeSantis has used coordinated flights for key policy priorities before.

His office helped coordinate evacuation flights for Americans in Israel.

Last year, the Florida governor made national headlines for his controversial plan to fly migrants from the US border to the small island of Martha’s Vineyard as part of his larger attempts to shunt migrants into Democratically-run jurisdictions.