A confrontation is brewing in southern Israeli cities targeted by rocket fire from Gaza, over fees charged to residents for building safe rooms in their dwellings, Israel Radio reported on Sunday.

Residents of southern communities have complained that their municipalities are charging several thousand shekels from individual homeowners for a permit to build a safe room, but the mayors of Beersheva, Ashkelon and Ashdod blamed the situation on the Interior Ministry, which said that local authorities must collect fees from residents who build additions to their homes.

Residents of communities close to Gaza, such as Sderot, receive government funding to facilitate safe room construction, due to the steady rain of rocket fire, but that funding does not extend to southern communities outside the immediate Gaza beltway.

However, Operation Pillar of Defense saw Gaza-launched missiles strike deep into southern Israel, prompting a spate of requests to build safe rooms. The Interior Ministry said that residents could petition their municipality for a discount on fees, and that it would look into the situation.

In the wake of the first Gulf War in the early 90s, which saw Saddam Hussein launch rocket attacks on Israel from Iraq, it was required that all new construction include a safe room, but older buildings were not required to have one.