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JERUSALEM - An initiative in the Israeli parliament this month to investigate the funding of local human rights organizations has intensified debate here about the role of the groups, which rightist critics have accused of harming Israel . Human rights advocates say they are working in an increasingly hostile public climate - particularly since the Gaza war two years ago, which brought allegations of Israeli war crimes - and they warn that free speech and the right to dissent are being challenged. Thousands of people marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday night to protest lawmakers' initial approval of a parliamentary committee to look into foreign funding of the Israeli rights groups.
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