Lebanese banks will close indefinitely after a wave of hold-ups

The closures follow a series of heists across the country in the past month, with at least five separate banks withheld by depositors last Friday only in an attempt to recover frozen savings in the banking system.
Millions of Lebanese citizens have had their accounts blocked after the country plunged into financial crisis in October 2019. With the local currency having since lost 90% of its value, more than three quarters of the population have been pushed into poverty and most are unable to pay for basic items.
In August, a a gunman stormed a bank in the capital Beirut and threatened to kill hostages and himself if the bank did not allow him to withdraw money from his frozen account. Claiming he needed funds to pay his father’s medical bills, Bassam Sheikh Hussein turned himself in to police after the bank gave him some of his savings.
After being cheered on by groups outside the bank, Hussein was hailed as a national hero by many on social media. An unnamed security source speculated to CNN that Hussein’s methods could be replicated by others.
Last Wednesday, a woman withdrew $20,000 from her account after storm a bank armed with what she later claimed was a toy gun in order to fund her sister’s cancer treatment, according to state information.

Later that day, a gunman entered a bank in the mountain town of Aley and retrieved some of his trapped savings before turning himself in to authorities.

A bank window is smashed after a woman stormed it on September 14.
Lebanese army soldiers secure premises near a bank in Beirut after a depositor stormed the branch demanding access to his money.

The five banks detained on Friday included an incident in the southern town of Ghazieh, where a gunman – after pouring petrol on the floor of the bank – threatened to set the building on fire if he did not have access to his money, the official news agency said. NNA reported.

He recovered $19,200 and gave the money to someone waiting outside the branch, before handing himself over to authorities, the NNA said.