BEIRUT — An unarmed depositor, with help from several others, recovered his savings by force from a Blom Bank branch in Haret Hreik in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Monday morning, a spokesperson for the Internal Security Forces told L'Orient-Le Jour.
The group left with $11,000 of the depositor's savings before the Lebanese Army arrived on the scene, according to the state-run National News Agency. Footage shared on Monday by the local channel Al Jadeed showed a crowd around the bank's premises where a man was heard shouting.
The bank is "trying to understand what exactly happened because no weapons were used," a Blom Bank management source told L'Orient-Le Jour on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the situation. "Was it compassion [on the bank employees' part]? We still don't know."
Lebanon saw a series of bank holdups last month by aggrieved depositors attempting to access their own funds, which are locked due to the ongoing economic crisis. On Sept. 16, at least five holdups took place in various banks across the country. Two days earlier, two bank holdups had also taken place, one of which was carried out by a young woman, Sali Hafez, armed with a toy gun.
The holdups prompted banks to close for a week and demand security measures from the authorities. Most of them then reopened, implementing strict measures such as receiving customers by appointment only.
'Depositors' actions' against banks on Tuesday
Rami Ollaik, founder of the lawyers' collective Mouttahidoun (United), told L'Orient-Le Jour on Monday that "depositors' actions" against banks would take place Tuesday.
"We have actions planned tomorrow by depositors in Mount Lebanon and Bekaa," Ollaik said, without specifying the exact nature of the actions or their location.