"I called the police the second I jumped out of the car," said one of the five. "There was no answer and they left me on hold. I don't speak Hebrew, so I thought maybe the police didn't understand what I said."
The five yeshiva students accidentally entered the Palestinian city after losing their way on a trip to the Tomb of the Patriarchs. Two of them were lightly wounded and a firebomb destroyed their vehicle along with their passports and money.
A local Palestinian man, Fayez Abu Hamdia, brought the five into his home where they spent some 40 minutes before security forces arrived and extracted them from the danger zone.
The police justified the lengthy wait Friday, saying that they "don't send forces into Palestinian towns without verifying reports - something that takes time." Police added that they did "everything possible to locate the house where the tourists were."
The tourists who speak no Hebrew said they called friends in Jerusalem after receiving little attention from police dispatchers. Their friends called police and reported the incident in Hebrew, leaving authorities with a name and number to reach the five trapped in Hebron.
According to their claims, the tourists only heard from police 15 minutes after their friends' report in Hebrew.
Police sources said that dispatchers struggled to understand the tourists during the first call to police, and only managed to grasp where they were located when Hamdia got on the line and explained the situation.
After investigating the incident, police said Saturday that the calls made to its emergency call center were not disconnected intentionally.
"The calls to the call center, including the call that was played in the media, were disconnected for an unknown reason, and certainly not intentionally by the dispatchers," the Judea and Samaria Police said.
"During the call that was released, and other calls, the handling of the incident was already underway and neither the later calls, nor their disconnecting, have anything to do with the handling of the incident," the police went on to say.
The Americans said Friday that they were still in shock and somewhat traumatized after the event, but said they were starting to feel better.
The police was harshly criticized for similar claims in 2014 after the West Bank kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers that eventually led to Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.