It took him two years and ten months to do so.
But the real apology should not have been addressed to the Turks, but to the Israelis. And not just for the mistakes committed by the soldiers.
THE ENTIRE affair was an act of pure idiocy, from beginning to end. Right from its inception.
It is easy to say so with hindsight. But my friends and I pointed to the stupidity of the action publicly, before it all started.
As we said at the time, the damage inherent in stopping the Turkish ship was much more serious than the damage -- if any -- that would have been caused by letting it sail to its destination.
After all, what is the worst that could have happened? The ship would have anchored opposite the shore of Gaza, the international activists on board would have received a tumultuous welcome, Hamas would have celebrated a small victory, and that's that. A week later, nobody would have cared or remembered.
Officially, the blockade was imposed by the Israeli navy for the sole purpose of preventing arms reaching the Hamas-governed Gaza Strip. If this had been a serious concern, the Mavi Marmara could have been stopped on the high seas, searched for arms and released. This was not even considered.
From then on, it became solely a matter of prestige. Of childish political or personal ego. In short, of idiocy.
In a military action, one never knows what can happen. Things never proceed as planned. Casualties must be expected. And, as has been said, the plan itself is the first casualty in any war.
So the plan went awry. Instead of meekly submitting to the attack in international waters, the Turks had the incredible impudence of attacking the soldiers with sticks and such. The poor soldiers had no choice but to shoot them dead.
The reasonable thing would have been to apologize immediately to the victims' families, pay generous compensation and let the whole affair simmer down.
But no, not we Israelis. Because We Were In The Right. We always are. It's in our nature. We can't help it.
(I remember a driving school of the British army in Palestine. In the center there stood the remnants of a crashed car with the inscription: "But He Was In The Right!")
So we mistreated the passengers, stole their cameras and other belongings, and let them go only after a thorough humiliation. We accused them of being dangerous terrorists. We came near to demanding indemnities for our soldiers, who were, after all, the real victims.
THE SHEER stupidity of all this was illustrated by the fact that Turkey was our closest ally in the region.