JERUSALEM - The family of a former New Democrat MP who was arrested on board a ship trying to break through Israel's blockade of Gaza is asking the federal government to help secure his release.

Jim Manly, who is also an ordained United Church minister, was travelling with several European legislators and pro-Palestinian activists when he was taken into Israeli custody over the weekend.

The 79-year-old was on the Finnish-flagged MV Estelle to draw attention to what he called the struggles of the Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip.

His family says they want Ottawa to do more to help have Manly released.

His son, Paul Manly, says his father should be permitted to call his family and should not be forced to sign any type of confession.

The vessel was reportedly carrying aide supplies when it was intercepted and diverted to an Israeli port.

"My father must be released from detention immediately and put on the first plane available back to Canada," he said.

An official for Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird said Monday the government recognizes Israel's "legitimate security concerns" over flotillas into Gaza.

"We have strongly urged those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels. Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza," Baird's spokesman, Rick Roth, said in an email.

The ministry says it is monitoring the situation closely and has been in contact with Manly's family.

Israel's Interior Ministry says the activists will be questioned and deported to their home countries within 72 hours.

Israel imposed an embargo on Gaza after the Islamic militant organization seized control of the territory in 2007.

Israel says it needs the blockade to prevent smuggling of weapons.

But critics say the embargo amounts to the collective punishment of Gaza's residents.

Related on HuffPost:

Loading Slideshow...
  • Mideast, Noam Chomsky

    Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, center, speaks during a press conference to support the Gaza-bound flotilla in the port of Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Mideast

    This photo released by the Israel Defense Forces, shows the Swedish-owned, Finnish-flagged boat, Estelle as it near the waters off the Gaza Strip Saturday Oct 20, 2012. (AP Photo/IDF)

  • Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky talks during his meeting with Palestinian youth activists in Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. Chomsky crossed from Egypt yesterday for his first visit to Gaza. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Mideast, Noam Chomsky

    Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky, right, stands during a press conference to support the Gaza-bound flotilla in the port of Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 20 , 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky and Amjad Shawwa the director of PNGO the Gaza based umbrella group of the NGOS, right, talk during their meeting with Palestinian youth activists in Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky and Raji Sourani , lawyer and director of the Palestinian Center for human rights arrive for a meeting with Palestinian youth activists in Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 19, 2012. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

  • Mideast, Noam Chomsky

    Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky attends a conference at the Islamic University in Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 20 , 2012. Chomsky entered Gaza Strip from Egypt Thursday for his first visit to Gaza. (AP photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Mideast, Noam Chomsky

    Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky arrives to a conference at the Islamic University in Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 20 , 2012. Chomsky entered Gaza Strip from Egypt Thursday for his first visit to Gaza. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

  • Mideast, Noam Chomsky

    Jewish-American scholar and activist Noam Chomsky stands during a press conference to support the Gaza-bound flotilla in the port of Gaza City, Saturday, Oct. 20 , 2012. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)


Loading Slideshow...
  • In this Wednesday, June 13, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower, masked in a kaffiyeh to conceal his identity, stretches a sling shot as he poses for a portrait in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Wednesday, June 13, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower stretches a slingshot while posing for a portrait in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower, masked in a kaffiyeh to conceal his identity, poses for a portrait in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower masked in a balaclava printed with the Palestinian flag and Arabic script which translates to English as "popular resistance", poses for a portrait in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Wednesday, June 13, 2012 photo, three Palestinian stone throwers pose for a portrait masked in kaffiyehs to conceal their identity, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower poses for a portrait in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower holding a sling shot and masked in a t-shirt fashioned as kaffiyeh to conceal his identity, poses for a portrait, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower, masked in a kaffiyeh to conceal his identity, poses for a portrait while holding a tire in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. Tires are often burned during Palestinian protests. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower poses for a portrait as he covers his face with a plastic bag which is meant to protect him from tear gas during protests, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Monday, June 11, 2012 photo, a Palestinian stone thrower poses for a portrait wearing a gas mask, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Wednesday, June 13, 2012, a Palestinian stone thrower wrapped in a Palestinian flag and masked in a kaffiyeh to conceal his identity, poses for a portrait, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this Wednesday, June 13, 2012 photo, two Palestinian stone throwers pose for a portrait masked in kaffiyehs to conceal their identity, in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. The stone throwers are among seven men who agreed to pose for a series of twelve portraits. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

  • In this combination of photos made from twelve photos taken on June 11 and June 13, 2012, Palestinian stone throwers pose for portraits in the West Bank village of Bilin, near Ramallah. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)