Thabo Mbeki, the ex-president of South Africa's, has called for a boycott of Israeli goods to show solidarity with Palestinians.
Mbeki said "the public should mobilize against Israel so that it "does pay a price for the position that it is taking."
Most South Africans draw parallels between the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa and the Palestinian campaign for independence and have historically supported the Palestinians.
Many South Africans also resented the historical collusion between Israel and apartheid South Africa. They include the late Nelson Mandela, Nobel peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and prominent Jewish leaders such as Ronnie Kasrils and the late Joe Slovo.
Mr Mbeki rejected calls for the government to recall its ambassador to Tel Aviv, saying South Africa needed to "engage" with Israel to find a "just solution" to the conflict.
At the same time, he said South Africa's political parties, trade unions and religious groups should mobilize for a boycott of Israeli goods and "divesting" from Israeli companies.
Mbeki called for the same type of boycotts that were instrumental in defeating the system of apartheid in South Africa.
Tens of thousands of people have rallied against Israel in South Africa.