- A woman held up a Lebanese bank on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported.
- Sali Hafez said she was trying to retrieve money in her savings account to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment.
- Banks in Lebanon, which is facing an economic crisis, have limited the funds citizens can withdraw.
A woman in Lebanon took a bank hostage so she could withdraw money from her own savings account, several outlets reported.
CNN reported that Sali Hafez threatened to set herself on fire while brandishing what she later said was a toy gun in a BLOM Bank branch on Wednesday.
Hafez told local Lebanese outlets that she needed to withdraw funds to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment. She said she had visited the bank manager a few days before the hold-up and begged the branch manager to let her withdraw funds. She was told she could only withdraw $200 a month, the Associated Press reported.
“My sister is dying in front of me and no one wants to help us. The bank stole my money. I have nothing left to lose,” Hafez said.
—Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) September 16, 2022
Since 2019, Lebanon’s banks have imposed strict withdrawal limits on foreign currency, which means millions in the country have had trouble accessing their savings. As the country’s economy continues to decline, around 75% of the population has gone into poverty, the AP reported.
On Wednesday, with the help of activists from the Depositors’ Outcry, Hafez said she withdrew about $13,000 from the $20,000 she had in her savings. Hafez said she was so desperate she was considering selling her kidney to be able to pay for her sister’s treatment, the AP reported.
AlJazeera reported that a rising number of citizens are targeting banks to demand their money. On the same day Hafez held the BLOM bank branch hostage, an armed man demanded his money at a BankMed branch in the mountain city of Aley.
Alaa Khorchid, the founder of Depositors’ Outcry said people have been peacefully protesting for years and are fed up with not being heard and are now “taking matters into their own hands,” CNN reported.
“These people worked for decades, but not for the rulers to build palaces while they can’t afford a bottle of medicine,” Khorchid said, AlJazeera reported. “There is no government, no economic recovery plan, and little reserves left.”