South Africans should not let the Israel-Gaza conflict “deepen divisions”, said President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday.
This comes after a pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protest clashed in Cape Town last week.
The president addressed this incident in his weekly letter saying it was “troubling and unacceptable”.
President Ramaphosa and the ANC have expressed solidarity with Palestinians.
He said “support for the Palestinian struggle cannot be equated with antisemitism”.
Mr Ramaphosa went on to condemn an Israeli newspaper that called his government’s support for the Palestinians a sign of the country “encouraging pogroms” against the South African Jewish community.
The letter urged South Africans to not turn against each other as this conflict unfolds.
Last week, South Africa referred Israel’s government to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over its actions in the Gaza conflict.
Israel has argued that its bombing and invasion of Gaza are acts of self defence following the 7 October Hamas attack on Israel in which more than 1,200 people died and more than 230 people were taken hostage.