The condition of a seriously injured Israeli pilot stabilized Saturday morning after he was forced to eject from his plane over northern Israel. The jet was operating as part of an Israeli response to an Iranian unmanned aircraft that had entered Israeli territory from Syria.
Doctors at Haifa’s Rambam Medical Center said the pilot had exited surgery and was surrounded by family, but was still unconscious and connected to a respirator.
A second pilot was lightly injured while abandoning the aircraft.
The jet itself crashed into a field near Kibbutz Harduf in the Jezreel Valley.
The F-16 was one of several scrambled to conduct strikes in Syria early Saturday after an Iranian drone infiltrated Israeli airspace.
Watch: F-16 pilot parachutes down after ejecting from plane
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The army responded with a strike on the drone’s launch site, including a control facility manned by Iranian operators. The military later launched a second wave of raids on a dozen Syrian and Iranian targets inside Syria.
The air force was met with heavy anti-aircraft fire, including multiple missiles. The F-16 that crashed was apparently targeted by one such missile.
The exchange of fire was the most serious between Israel and Iran since the start of the civil war in Syria in 2011. It marked the first time Israel publicly acknowledged attacking what it identified as Iranian targets in Syria since the war began.
The IDF said it was “monitoring events and is fully prepared for further action, depending on assessments and necessity.”