Organizers of a planned Canadian Boat to Gaza are saluting the efforts of another group attempting to break the siege of Gaza. The Jewish Boat to Gaza has been intercepted and boarded by Israeli forces today, and is currently being towed to the port of Ashdod.

The Jewish boat, Irene, was sailing under a British flag and carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the U.S., the UK, Germany and Israel as well as an Israeli journalist. The Irene was also carrying a cargo of humanitarian aid. It left port from Cyprus.

“The Canadian government under Stephen Harper has tried to tar critics of Israel’s siege and occupation as anti-Jewish,” explained CBG steering committee member and Canadian Peace Alliance co-chair Derrick O’Keefe.

“This is a vile slander, and the Jewish Boat to Gaza shows that this is not an issue of religion, but rather an issue of the universal human right to live free from siege and collective punishment,” O’Keefe added.

In May, Israeli forces killed nine aboard the Turkish aid ship the Mavi Marmara, which was part of a flotilla organized by the Free Gaza Movement. The Canadian ship plans to sail with the next major international flotilla, likely before the end of this year.

“We felt our Canadian Boat is a necessary challenge to the Harper government, which has uncritically supported Israeli war crimes against the people of Gaza,” said CBG organizer Ehab Lotayef.

Among the hundreds of supporters of the Canadian Boat to Gaza is Suzanne Weiss, a Holocaust survivor now living in Toronto. Earlier this year, she explained the imperative she feels to challenge injustice in Palestine, “The rights we expect for the Jewish people, we demand for all humanity — above all, for the Palestinians that the Israeli government oppresses in our name.”

“The more Israel uses force like this to prevent aid ships from breaking the siege of Gaza, the more determined we are to send our Canadian Boat to Gaza as part of this international effort,” added Lotayef.