Ephraim Katzir, 93, Israel's fourth president and an internationally recognized biophysicist, died yesterday.

Mr. Katzir's 1973-78 tenure spanned two seminal events in Israeli history: the 1973 Mideast war and the 1977 visit of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem. Mr. Katzir left the presidency after one term to return to scientific research.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement that Mr. Katzir's "integrity and modesty set an example."

Born in Kiev in 1916, Mr. Katzir immigrated at age 6 with his family to British-ruled Palestine and studied biology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, earning his doctorate in 1941.

He served in the Haganah, the underground Jewish defense organization, and helped set up a military research and development unit that developed explosives, propellants and other munitions.

During the war that followed Israel's independence in 1948, he was appointed head of the military's science corps. He served as the Israeli military's chief scientist from 1966 to 1968.

He was a founder of Israel's renowned Weizmann Institute of Science and headed its biophysics department. He was awarded the Israel Prize, the country's highest honor, in 1959 for his contribution to the natural sciences. - AP