A woman on Wednesday raided a bank with a toy gun and walked out with thousands of dollars of her own money to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment, reports the DailyMail.
The incident which happened in Beirut, Lebanon saw one Sali Hafiz, a 28-year-old activist and interior designer manage to free around $13,000 from the $20,000 she said her family had deposited to pay for the cancer treatment for her sister costing $50,000.
The video which went viral on Twitter shows the woman talking to bank employees at a reception desk before taking out the toy gun prompting screams from those inside.
Hafiz streamed a live video of her raid on a Beirut branch of Blom Bank, in which she could be heard yelling at employees to release a sum of money while entrances to the bank were sealed by associates.
‘I am Sali Hafiz, I came today… to take the deposits of my sister who is dying in the hospital,’ she said in the video. I did not come to kill anyone or to start a fire… I came to claim my rights.’
She said she had repeatedly visited the bank to ask for her money and was told she could only receive $200 a month in Lebanese pounds, she said.
According to the Mail, an AFP correspondent at the scene said gasoline had been poured inside the bank during the heist, which lasted under an hour.
Nadine Nakhal, a bank customer, said the intruders ‘doused gasoline everywhere inside, and took out a lighter and threatened to light it.’
She said the woman with the pistol threatened to shoot the manager if she did not receive her money.
Hafiz told local media she had used her nephew’s toy pistol for the hold-up before leaving with the cash in a plastic bag. She had already sold many of her personal belongings and had considered selling her kidney to fund her 23-year-old sister’s cancer treatment.
‘I had begged the branch manager before for my money, and I told him my sister was dying, didn’t have much time left,’ she said in the interview. ‘I reached a point where I had nothing else to lose.’
The activist and her suspected accomplices managed to escape through a smashed window out the back of the bank before security forces arrived, the AFP correspondent said.
A group called Depositors’ Outcry assisted in the bank raid, Associated Press reported.
Security forces standing outside arrested several of the activists, including a man carrying what looked like a handgun. It was not immediately clear if this was also a toy gun.
The woman’s sister said the family had not been in touch with Hafiz since the heist and was not involved in its planning. Hafiz instantly turned into a folk hero on social media in Lebanon, where many are desperate to access their savings and furious at a banking sector perceived as a corrupt cartel.
Lebanon’s economy has contracted by nearly 60% since 2019, with the Lebanese lira declining by 90% in value in the years hence.
About three-quarters of the population has slipped into poverty as the tiny Mediterranean country´s economy continues to spiral.
Pictures and footage of her standing on a desk inside the bank carrying a gun went viral on social media.
‘Thank you,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘Two weeks ago I cried at Blom Bank. I needed the money for a surgery. I am too weak to hold a gun and take what is mine.’
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