IAF Commander Major General Amikam Norkin praised the pilot of the downed F-16 jet who was severely wounded on Saturday after ejecting from the aircraft. During a visit at the Rambam Medical Center, Norkin said the decision to abandon the fighter jet in time saved the lives of both the pilot and the navigator.

Norkin visits injured pilot

Norkin visits injured pilot Photo Credit: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit

Commander of the Israel Air Force Major General Amikam Norkin on Sunday visited the wounded pilot who operated in Israel’s attack in Syria during the weekend. The pilot and the navigator beside him abandoned an F-16 jet over northern Israel after it was by a Syrian anti-aircraft missile.

Norkin commended the pilot, who was hospitalized in the Rambam Medical Center after the incident, for his actions and his decision to abandon the aircraft.  “From the moment you understood you must abandon the jet you made the right decision,” Norkin told the pilot.  “You not only saved your own life but also that of the navigator, Major A.”

The pilot, who was in critical condition on Saturday, is now able to breathe on his own and is fully conscious after being operated at the intensive care unit of the hospital. He is now in stable condition. The navigator sustained only minor injuries and was released on Sunday.

Israeli President Reuven Riviln who visited the two on Sunday, told reporters at Rambam Medical Center: “I was happy to see that the two pilots were recovering quickly. This is an opportunity to thank the hospital for its capabilities and dedication and uncompromising willingness to take care of our soldiers.”

As previously reported by JOL, Netanyahu praised the pilot and navigator on Sunday morning. “They are protecting the State of Israel and we are proud of them,” he said. Netanyahu added that the Israeli strike on 12 Syrian targets, which came in response to the infiltration of an Iranian drone, made it clear that Israel is prepared to respond to any attack. “We will continue to foil any attempt to harm us,” he said. “That has been our policy and it will remain so.”