Preview -- World News Tonight 05/18/01

Good Afternoon.

At about 4:30 a.m. ET, when most of us were sleeping, a 20-year-old carpenter walked into a shopping mall in the Israeli town of Netanya.

The mall was crowded; Israelis were preparing for the Jewish Sabbath, which begins at sundown Friday. It was a hot day — an important detail, because when security guard Lior Kamissa saw the young man he thought to himself, Why is he wearing a heavy, oversized jacket, on such a warm day? A few minutes later Kamissa was badly hurt. And lucky. "I looked him in the eye, and he blew himself up," Kamissa said from his hospital bed. "I didn't see him push a button, nothing. He just exploded, and disappeared."

He "disappeared." At least five Israelis were killed. Seventy more were hurt.

About six hours later, Israeli F-16s were in the air. For the first time since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel was using warplanes to attack Palestinian buildings, flattening a security headquarters in Ramallah, hitting a prison in Nablus, and knocking out power in Gaza. The casualty figure for these strikes is not yet clear.

What is very clear is that Israel and the Palestinians are near the abyss — with profound implications for the region, and the rest of the world. If you have any doubt that this will affect the United States, consider that the Palestinians — and Arabs in many places — are well aware that those F-16s the Israelis are using are American-made planes. The emotion they feel for Israel tonight may well be an emotion felt for America.

We'll have a full report from Jerusalem correspondent Gillian Findlay tonight. Then we'll turn to Terry Moran at the White House. The Bush administration has said consistently it wants to be less directly involved than its predecessors in the Middle East. Does a day like this one change that?

In the other news tonight, the changing face of the American family: more single fathers raising their children. ABC's Dan Harris will have that. Everyone — including the federal government — is wondering what the alleged spy Robert Hanssen did with his money. We have an interview with a woman who says she knows. And Dean Reynolds has an update on a story that many of you have asked about: what's killing the young horses in Kentucky?

Finally, the Bronx meets the Aland Islands of Finland. A week ago we heard about the fifth- and sixth-graders from P.S. 86 here in New York City, and their excellent adventure. And we thought we ought to go along. So tonight we'll have a piece from the Alands, in the Gulf of Bothnia. And we'll tell you why the kids are there. It's a story about some terrific and talented children, their very dedicated teacher, and an entertaining confluence of cultures. It's also about music. We think you'll enjoy it.

Hope you'll join us. And we hope you have a terrific weekend.

Peter Jennings