Beirut: Lebanese banks will close for three days starting from Monday amid mounting security concerns, local media reported.
The Association of Banks in Lebanon announced the closure after angry depositors across the country stormed banks on Friday demanding their savings, according to al-Jadeed TV channel.
More than seven banks on Friday were broken into and raided by depositors, some of whom wielded pistols and brought fuel jerricans threatening to commit arson, Xinhua news agency reported.
The incidents prompted Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi to call for an emergency meeting of security forces to discuss measures that could be taken.
"What we are witnessing today is an unhealthy phenomenon that threatens security and the country, and the security forces know very well how to tighten control," he added.
Mawlawi made the remarks on Friday during a press conference at the Interior Ministry, where security agencies were present to discuss the measures to keep the country safe and stable.
Mawlawi also called on depositors to remain calm as "deposits cannot be recovered by using these methods, which are illegal and can destroy the banking system and cause other depositors to lose money."
The wave of raids comes a month after a Lebanese judge ordered the release of Bassam Al Sheikh Hussein, who took hostage at the Federal Bank of Lebanon demanding $35,000 of his savings to pay hospital bills, the National News Agency reported.
Lebanon has been witnessing an unprecedented financial crisis that plunged a big part of the population into poverty and forced banks to place heavy restrictions on depositors' withdrawals.
Beirut, Lebanon… Sali Hafiz robs a bank with a toy gun to pay for cancer treatment for her sister. The money belongs to her, but bank accounts are frozen and you can only withdraw $200 per month… she’s become a national hero. RESISTpic.twitter.com/PblmnByh3y— Pelham (@Resist_05) September 14, 2022
Beirut, Lebanon… Sali Hafiz robs a bank with a toy gun to pay for cancer treatment for her sister. The money belongs to her, but bank accounts are frozen and you can only withdraw $200 per month… she’s become a national hero. RESISTpic.twitter.com/PblmnByh3y
Angry depositors stormed branches after Lebanese banks insisted that dollars be withdrawn only after being exchanged into Lebanese pounds at a vastly inferior rate to the black market, which is generally the rate used across the country.
According to Al Jazeera reporter, Zeina Khodr, a union called the Outcry Association has declared war against the banks.
“That’s the words they are using,” she said. “They are promising that these incidents are going to happen over and over again.”
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