Simmering tensions between Israel's National Fire and Rescue Authority and the firefighters union exploded into the public eye Thursday as a festive ceremony celebrating the end of its commanders course deteriorated into name-calling and heckling.
During the ceremony, union representatives prevented National Fire and Rescue Authority Commissioner Dudi Simkhi from speaking, constantly interrupting him and shouting that he was neglecting the firefighters' needs.
Simkhi apologized to the families of the firefighters and decided to cancel the ceremony. "I am sorry for the aggravation caused to the new commanders and families who came to celebrate with the firefighters," he said.
Union representatives said that they were protesting Simkhi's contentious decision to fire two firefighters and accused Simkhi of leaving the National Fire and Rescue Authority woefully unprepared for the large-casualty event.
"We need to be very clear- the writing is on the wall, and we call on Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan to intervene immediately," said spokesperson Avi Ankri.
The National Fire and Rescue Authority called the event "an unprecedented disgrace," and maintained that Simkhi enjoyed wall to wall support from the families of the firefighters.