Woman steals her own money from a bank to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment in Lebanon

A Lebanese woman robbed a Beirut bank on Wednesday with a toy gun and walked away with thousands of dollars of her own money to pay for her sister’s cancer treatment, the Daily Mail reports.

According to the report, Sali Hafiz is a 28-year-old activist and interior designer who managed to release around $13,000 of the $20,000 she said her family had deposited.

Cancer treatment for her sister costs $50,000, she said.

The video shows her talking to bank workers at a reception desk before pulling out the toy gun, prompting screams from those inside.

Hafiz broadcast live video of his raid on a Beirut branch of Blom Bank, in which he could be heard yelling at employees to release a sum of money as the entrances to the bank were sealed off by associates.

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I am Sali Hafiz, I came today… to take the deposits from my sister who is dying in the hospital”, she says in the video.

“I did not come to kill anyone or to start a fire… I came to claim my rights.

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She said she repeatedly went to the bank to ask for her money and was told she could only receive $200 a month in Lebanese pounds, she said.

Bank deposits were frozen for three years by the government after Lebanon’s economic collapse in 2019, with depositors in Beirut beginning to take matters into their own hands.

According to the Mail, an AFP correspondent at the scene said petrol was poured inside the bank during the robbery, which lasted less than an hour.

Bank customer Nadine Nakhal said the intruders ‘Doused gasoline all over the interior, pulled out a lighter and threatened to light it.’

She said the woman with the gun threatened to shoot the manager if she didn’t get her money.

Hafiz told local media that she used her nephew’s toy gun for the heist before leaving with the money in a plastic bag. She had already sold many of her belongings and considered selling her kidney to fund her 23-year-old sister’s cancer treatment.

“I had already begged the branch manager for my money, and I told him my sister was dying, there wasn’t much time left,” she says in the interview. “I reached a point where I had nothing left to lose.”

The activist and her alleged accomplices managed to escape through a broken window at the back of the bank before security forces arrived, the AFP correspondent said.

A group called Depositors’ Outcry participated in the bank raid, the Associated Press reported.

Security forces outside arrested several of the activists, including a man carrying what appeared to be 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 contact with Hafiz since the robbery and had not been involved in its planning. Hafiz instantly turned into a popular hero on social media in Lebanon, where many are desperate to access their savings and are furious with a banking sector seen as a corrupt cartel.

The Lebanese economy has shrunk by almost 60% since 2019, with the Lebanese pound falling by 90% in value over the following years.

About three-quarters of the population have fallen into poverty as the economy of the small Mediterranean country continues to soar.

Photos and images of her standing on a desk inside the bank carrying a gun have gone viral on social media.

‘Thanks,’ wrote one Twitter user. “Two weeks ago I cried at Blom Bank. I needed money for an operation. I’m too weak to hold a gun and take what’s mine.