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Woman with toy gun breaks into Beirut bank to take money in locked savings

Woman with toy gun breaks into Beirut bank to take money in locked savings

Posted September. 16, 2022 07:35,   

Updated September. 16, 2022 07:35


In Lebanon, where withdrawals of savings have been limited due to the economic crisis, a woman who was armed with a toy pistol to break into a bank and took 13,000 dollars from her trapped deposit is being praised as a hero on social media, owing to people’s discontent over recessions prolonged for several years.

According to Associate Press News on Wednesday, Sali Hafez entered the BLOM Bank branch in Beirut, Lebanon, accompanied by the activists from a group called Depositors’ Outcry in the morning. Whipping the toy gun out, she cried, “I don’t want to kill or hurt anybody. I am here to get my rights.” The intruders stormed into the manager’s office, threatening to put the place on fire, and the bank handed over the money.

Hafez told the local media that she needed the money to fund her sister’s cancer treatment. “I repeatedly visited the bank asking for $20,000 in my bank account to save my sister but was told I can only receive $200 a month,” she said. “I reached a point where I had nothing else to lose.”

The value of the Lebanese pound plummeted by 90 percent due to the economic crisis caused by the prolonged pandemic, the massive Beirut port explosion, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Accordingly, the Lebanese government tied up the assets of millions of its people by limiting the withdrawal of foreign currencies from banks since 2019 on the ground to prevent massive cash withdrawals. Now about three-quarters of the population has slipped into poverty. World Bank diagnosed that the economic crisis in Lebanon is the worst and most prolonged recession in the world since the 19th century.

This is not the first time an armed citizen broke into the bank to take out money in Lebanon. Last month, a man with a rifle held people hostage, trying to retrieve $200,000 in his savings for his sick father’s treatment.

Min Kim kimmin@donga.com