Ashdod Grad rockets – 29.10.11
Firefighters working to extinguish a car set alight by a Grad rocket fired from the Gaza Strip, Ashdod, Oct. 29, 2011. Photo by Eliyahu Hershkowitz
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Following friction between the Home Front Command and city leaders in the south whose towns had been targeted by rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, the mayors of three of the cities chose to stay away from a meeting with Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai on Wednesday.

The meeting was convened to establish standards regarding a return to normal routines after civil defense emergencies. It follows disagreement with the Home Front Command, which ordered schools to reopen before some municipal officials were willing do so.

At the beginning of the week, schools in the three towns whose mayors failed to attend, Be'er Sheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod, remained closed for two days after the Home Front Command issued an announcement that they could reopen.

The mayors said they did not coordinate their decision not to attend Wednesday's meeting. They also all advised Vilnai in advance that they would not be coming.

"We have so many complaints regarding the Home Front Command," said another mayor from the region who did meet with Vilnai, "so maybe it would have been worth their while to make a little of their time available to make their voices heard."

Vilnai told those in attendance that local officials must comply with Home Front Command directives. The Ashdod Municipality said the town's mayor didn't come due to a prior personal obligation, but the city did send the head of the city's security and emergency services department. Similarly the Ashkelon Municipality said a deputy mayor attended instead of the mayor, who also had a prior obligation.