Banks in Lebanon will remain closed indefinitely


The shutdowns followed a series of holdups across the country last month, with at least five separate banks held up by depositors last Friday in an effort to recover frozen savings in the banking system.
Millions of Lebanese citizens have been locked out of accounts since the country plunged into a financial crisis in October 2019. After losing 90% of the value of the local currency, more than three quarters of the population have been pushed into poverty and most are unable to pay for basic items.
In August, a gunman stormed a bank in the capital city of Beirut and threatened to kill the hostages and himself unless the bank withdrew money from his frozen account. Bassam Sheikh Hussain surrendered to the police after the bank gave him some of his savings, claiming he needed the funds to cover his father’s medical expenses.
After being cheered by groups outside the bank, Hussain was hailed as a national hero by many on social media. An anonymous security source told CNN that Hussain’s method could be replicated by others.
Last Wednesday, a woman took $20,000 from her account after storming into a bank armed with what she claimed was a toy gun to fund her sister’s cancer treatment, according to state news.

Later that day, an armed man entered a bank in the mountain town of Ale and recovered some of his stashed savings before handing himself over to authorities.

Lebanese army soldiers secure the premises of a bank in Beirut after a depositor stormed the branch demanding access to his money.

Five banks held on Friday included one in the southern city of Ghazih, where an armed man — who poured gasoline on the bank’s floor — threatened to burn down the building if he was not given access to his money, state news agency NNA reported.

He recovered $19,200 and handed the money to someone waiting for him outside the branch, before turning himself in to authorities, NNA reported.