JERUSALEM — A group of ultra-Orthodox men attacked a woman on Tuesday as she put up posters in an Israeli town that has become a flashpoint for tensions between religious and secular Jews, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident occurred in Beit Shemesh, which lies 30 kilometres (18 miles) west of Jerusalem, as the woman was trying to put up posters for Israel's national lottery.

"A woman was driving in Beit Shemesh and putting up posters for the Israeli lottery when she was surrounded by a group of ultra-Orthodox men," Rosenfeld told AFP.

"They threw stones at her and slashed the tyres of her car. They also stole her car keys. She was slightly injured in the head. Police arrived and took her to a safe place. Three suspects were arrested."

The incident comes several weeks after Beit Shemesh hit the headlines and sparked a national debate about relations between secular and religious Israelis and the role of the ultra-Orthodox community within the Jewish state.

The town, which is home to around 80,000 people, was at the centre of an Israeli television report on a series of spitting attacks and abuse hurled at an eight-year-old girl on grounds she was dressed "immodestly".

Reporters also filmed signs instructing women to walk on different sides of the street from men, and interviewed local residents who justified the imposition of a strict regime of segregation.