As Ma’an cites the lead organizer, Col. Ann Wright…

“The Greeks declared that there would be no boats leaving from Greece to Gaza, no boats at all,” organizer Ann Wright told reporters as the ship was being escorted back to shore, where coastguard officials said the activists would not likely be arrested, but were being kept on board the vessel.

“If we did not comply with what we said they would board us,” she said, confirming that the decision to turn around was made by the captain and seconded by organizers.

“Confronting the Israelis is one thing, but here in Greek waters, that is not what we are about,” Wright said, though activists on board said they had hoped for a confrontation to “expose the violence of our opponents.”

Wright, however, stressed agreements made between passengers on safety, saying “safety is our first priority beyond challenging the blockade, when they have M16s, live ammunition aimed at us — those were not tear gas launchers — that’s not the fight that we want.”

She said the ship was being taken to the a new harbor, adding that activists planned to stay on board until more information was available.

“I am extremely thrilled with what we have done, we have gotten international attention for the flotilla, we have broken out from Greece. We didn’t get as far as we wanted — all the way to Gaza — but we are the only boat that has tried this,” Wright said, adding that organizers intended to challenge the cabinet decision…

The AFP’s take…

Coastguard officials intercepted a US vessel Friday after it tried to defy a Greek ban on boats sailing to Gaza, as activists accused Israeli agents of a campaign harassment and sabotage.

The Audacity of Hope sailed without warning, leaving behind nine other boats supposed to be taking part in the 2011 international “Freedom Flotilla,” after the Greek authorities announced their ban.

It was quickly intercepted by a coastguard boat with six masked, armed men on board.

As the news spread that the US boat had been stopped, activists slammed what they called an “out-sourcing of Israeli foreign policy.”

The French “Boat to Gaza” organisation released a statement claiming that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had thanked Greece and other leaders around the world for their stand against the “provocative flotilla”. […]

“The departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza has been prohibited today,” the coastguard said in a statement released Friday, an hour before the ship set sail.

“All appropriate measures” should be taken to implement the ban, it said.

When the Audacity tried to break the ban, they were quickly intercepted and escorted back to Keratsini port on Friday evening, said a spokesperson for the activists.

“Six masked men on a Greek coastguard boat came up along side and pointed their weapons at the passengers,” said Jane Hirschmann, forcing the captain to turn back “for the saftey of everyone on board.”

On Friday morning, US activists had rallied outside the US embassy in Athens to protest what it said was America’s “complicity” with Israel in moving to block the flotilla in Greek ports…

Haaretz best sums up what is truly behind the Greek actions…

Netanyahu’s big fat Greek Wedding

Netanyahu has invested in his relationship with Greece over the course of the past year-and-a-half, and his gamble has finally paid off as Greece blocks Gaza-flotilla-bound departures from its ports.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sometimes seems almost too arrogant and self assured for his own good. However, unlike in most instances, this weekend he actually has justification for his haughtiness.

Netanyahu’s personal investment in his relationship over the past year-and-a-half with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou in which he increased diplomatic ties with the floundering European nation seems to have put the final nail in the Gaza flotilla’s coffin.

In his speech Thursday night for the Israeli Air Force Flight School graduation ceremony, Netanyahu discussed diplomatic efforts being made to prevent the Gaza flotilla from setting sail. The only leader that Netanyahu mentioned by name in his address was Greece’s George Papandreou.

Just a day earlier, the prime minister spoke with his Greek counterpart, imploring him to issue an order preventing ships from disembarking from Greece toward the Gaza Strip. Unlike in the past, Papandreou responded positively, and a top Israeli official involved in the talks between the Greek prime minister and Netanyahu said that Israel knew as early as Thursday afternoon that Greece was planning to block ships from leaving its ports toward the strip.

Btw, protests are now springing up all over, from the Big Apple to Ottawa, in front of the Greek Consulates…

Now, I’m still groggy from my all-nighter last nite, but, I wanted to carry on the fight… So in summing up the day’s activities, all the participants of the Audacity of Hope are sleeping on the boat, in a Greek military shipyard…!

Again, God Bless and God Speed…!

UPDATE: YouTube from the Audacity of Hope…

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