Lebanon banks reject gov't security plan, remain closed after wave of robberies

Lebanon’s banks will remain closed indefinitely after rejecting a proposed government security plan, a senior official with the country’s commercial banks association said on Thursday, amid a wave of protests and heists targeting its failing financial system.

The Association of Banks in Lebanon initially announced a three-day strike, after at least seven bank branches were stormed last week, where assailants demanded they withdraw their trapped savings. Among them is Sali Hafez, who broke into a Beirut bank branch with a fake pistol and retrieved some $13,000 in her savings to cover her sister’s cancer treatment.

Lebanon’s cash-strapped banks had last closed for a prolonged period back in October 2019 for two weeks, during mass anti-government protests triggered by the economic meltdown. Since 2019, the banks have imposed strict limits on withdrawals of currency, tying up the savings of millions of people. …

“One of our demands is that we are provided with security to guarantee that we can keep the banks safe,” Fadi Khalaf, the Secretary-General of the Association of Banks in Lebanon told The Associated Press. “When you have people come in with weapons and throw gasoline everywhere, do we have to wait until someone dies before we do something about it?”

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