A woman held up a bank in Lebanon’s capital Beirut with a toy gun and demanded to withdraw her own money from her frozen savings account to pay for her sister’s medical bills, one of the many incidents happening in the country as it experiences a major economic crisis.
Many Lebanese people have been restricted access to their bank accounts since 2019 as the country’s dollar lost its value and the country underwent inflation.
The woman, Sali Hafiz, collaborated with the activist group Depositors’ Outcry and live streamed the whole incident on Facebook on Wednesday Sep. 14.
Video of the moment showed Hafiz entering the bank with a toy gun and threatening to set the bank on fire after dousing it with petrol.
Hafiz had been unable to access US$20,000 in her savings account to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment.
“I am Sali Hafiz. I came today… to take the deposits of my sister, who is dying in hospital,” she said in the video, according to the BBC. “I did not come to kill anyone or to start a fire… I came to claim my rights.”
Eventually, she was able to force the bank into giving her $12,000 and $1,000 in Lebanese pounds, according to the Guardian.
Authorities have not arrested Hafiz.
“I have nothing more to lose, I got to the end of the road. I went to the branch manager two days ago and said my sister is dying, she doesn’t have time,” Hafiz told local news channel Al Jadeed TV afterwards.
“I got to a point where I was going to sell my kidney so that my sister could receive treatment,” she said.
This has not been the only incident of people holding up banks to withdraw their money.
In August, a man held 10 people hostage at a bank for seven hours and demanded money from his account to pay for his father’s medical expenses.
During the past years, the Lebanese government has not implemented any proper reform to help its economic sector.
As the country undergoes its worst depression, more than 80% of the Lebanese population is living under poverty.