JERUSALEM — An orthodox Jew was charged with sexual harassment on Thursday after a young Israeli woman soldier was verbally abused for refusing to sit at the back of a bus, a judicial source said.

Shlomo Fuchs, a 44-year-old father, was charged for allegedly insulting the soldier several times, including calling her a "whore," for refusing demands to sit on the rear benches of the vehicle.

"The increasing phenomenon of discrimination against women endangers democratic society," a police court hearing at which the suspect was charged was told.

The accused was granted bail of 20,000 shekels (4,000 euros) until his case is heard, but he was unable to pay and was remanded in custody.

On Tuesday night, some 3,000 Israelis gathered at Beit Shemesh west of Jerusalem to protest against ultra-Orthodox extremists there whose campaign for gender segregation has erupted into verbal and physical abuse against women.

The majority of the town's residents are religious Jews, among them a large and growing ultra-Orthodox community.

Activists have posted signs in their neighbourhood instructing women to dress "modestly" in long sleeves and calf-length skirts.

Israeli public radio reported that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein set up a team on Thursday whose remit is to report back to the government with recommendations on stamping out the phenomenon.