Two protesters were injured in clashes with police during a protest outside of a bank in Saida (south Lebanon) on Thursday, January 2. Protesters gathered outside the bank to protest restrictions implemented by banks in an ongoing nationwide economic crisis and related protest movement. Media reports indicate that many protesters entered the bank to assist clients in carrying out their operations and withdraw funds, when clashes quickly broke out between protesters and bank employees.
A heightened security presence is likely in Saida over the coming hours. Protests are likely to continue in Beirut, Tripoli, and other urban centers nationwide over the coming days.
On October 16-17, the government approved tax hikes on tobacco products and a daily tax on messages and calls done via the WhatsApp mobile phone messenger application. The announcement sparked mass protests across the country on October 17, forcing the government to revoke the tax proposal. Since, protests have evolved, calling for the resignation of the government and have continued despite an emergency reform package announced by Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 21. On October 29, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation. On December 19, President Michel Aoun designated former education minister Hassan Diab to serve as the next prime minister.
Individuals in Beirut are advised to monitor developments to the situation, avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution, anticipate transportation and business disruptions near demonstration sites, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities.