On the run, Lebanese woman who stole own savings says she's not the criminal

By Timour Azhari and Emilie Madi BEKAA VALLEY, LEBANON (Reuters) - On the run from authorities after forcing a bank to release her family savings at gunpoint to

treat her cancer-stricken sister, 28-year-old Lebanese interior designer Sali Hafiz insists she is not the criminal.     "We are in the country of mafias. If you are not

a wolf, the wolves will eat you," she told Reuters, standing on a dirt track somewhere in Lebanon's rugged eastern Bekaa valley where she has since been in hiding.    

Hafiz held up a Beirut branch of BLOM Bank last week, taking by force some $13,000 in savings in her sister's account frozen by capital controls that were imposed overnight by

commercial banks in 2019 but never made legal via legislation.     Dramatic footage of the incident, in which she cocks what later turned out to be a toy gun and stands

atop a desk bossing around employees who hand her wads of cash, turned her into an instant folk hero in a country where hundreds of thousands of people are locked out of their

savings.       A growing number are taking matters into their own hands, exasperated by a three-year financial implosion that authorities have left to fester - leading

the World Bank to describe it as "orchestrated by the country's elite".     Hafiz was the first of at least seven savers who held up banks last week, prompting banks to

shut their doors citing security concerns, and call for security support from the government.