Related Rule
Israel
Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Israel’s Law of War Booklet (1986) requires that a distinction be made between military objectives and civilian objects. 
Israel, Conduct in the Battlefield in Accordance with the Law of War, Israel Defense Forces, 1986, Chapter 1.
Israel’s Manual on the Laws of War (1998) provides:
The attacking party is bound by duty to distinguish between military objectives and civilian objects, and must take into account the presence of civilian objects when planning an attack.
The laws of war sets down several distinctions mentioned earlier. The most important of them is the distinction between military targets and civilian objects. 
Israel, Laws of War in the Battlefield, Manual, Military Advocate General Headquarters, Military School, 1998, pp. 38 and 42.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states: “One of the fundamental features of the rules of war is the distinction between military targets which it is permissible to attack and civilian targets which it is forbidden to attack.” 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 23.
The manual further states:
It is the duty of the attacker to distinguish between military targets and civilian targets, and the attacker should take into account the presence of civilian targets when planning the attack. No area in which military targets are combined with civilian targets may be considered as merely another target. 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 27.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
In its judgment in the Public Committee against Torture in Israel case in 2006, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
Opposite the combatants and military objectives stand the civilians and civilian objectives. Military attack directed at them is forbidden. Their lives and bodies are protected from the dangers of combat, provided that they themselves do not take a direct part in the combat. That customary principle is worded as follows:
“Rule 1: The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilians and combatants. Attacks may only be directed against combatants. Attacks must not be directed against civilians.
Rule 6: Civilians are protected against attack unless and for such time as they take a direct part in hostilities.
Rule 7: The parties to the conflict must at all times distinguish between civilian objects and military objectives. Attacks may only be directed against military objectives. Attacks must not be directed against civilian objects.” (J.M. HENCKAERTS & L. DOSWALD-BECK, CUSTOMARY INTERNATIONAL LAW pp. 3, 19, 25 (Vol. 1, 2005), hereinafter HENCKAERTS & DOSWALD-BECK).
This approach – which protects the lives, bodies, and property of civilians who are not taking a direct part in the armed conflict – passes like a thread throughout the caselaw of the Supreme Court. 
Israel, High Court of Justice, Public Committee against Torture in Israel case, Judgment, 14 December 2006, § 23.
In its judgment in Physicians for Human Rights v. Prime Minister of Israel in 2009, concerning the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip consequent to the start of Israeli military operations (“Cast Lead”) there in December 2008, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated: “One of the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law is the principle that distinguishes combatants and military targets from civilians and civilian targets, and grants protection to the latter.” 
Israel, High Court of Justice, Physicians for Human Rights v. Prime Minister of Israel, Judgment, 19 January 2009, § 21.
In 2008, in a background paper on Israel’s operations in Gaza, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “As regards the selection of targets, IDF [Israel Defence Forces] practice requires that a distinction be made between military objectives and civilian objects.” 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Background paper, Responding to Hamas Attacks from Gaza: Issues of Proportionality, December 2008, § 4.
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated:
The first core principle of the Law of Armed Conflict, as reflected both in treaty law and in customary international law, is that “the Parties to the conflict shall at all times distinguish between … civilian objects and military objectives and accordingly shall direct their operations only against military objectives.” The principle imposes obligations on both parties to an armed conflict. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 94.
In a footnote to paragraph 94, above, it further stated that this principle is contained in:
[1977] Additional Protocol I, art. 48. Although the State of Israel is not a party to the Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions, it accepts that this provision, as with certain others addressing the principles of distinction and proportionality, accurately reflects customary international law. See Public Committee against Torture in Israel v. Government of Israel, HCJ 769/02 at § 20 (11 December 2005).
The report also stated:
[A] commander’s intent is critical in reviewing the principle of distinction during armed conflict. Where it is believed in good faith, on the basis of the best available intelligence, that a civilian building has been misused as a sanctuary for military fighters, military intelligence, or the storage and manufacture of military assets, the commander has a legitimate basis for using force against the site. This is so even where judgment is based on limited information in a fluid battlefield situation. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 110.
[emphasis in original]
The report further stated: “The principle of distinction imposes obligations on the conduct of all parties, including those controlling the territory where the hostilities take place.” 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 116.
While the core challenges in the protection of civilians identified in the previous reports of the Secretary-General still need our sustained attention, the new report also identifies several protection policy priorities that need to be explored. In particular the following “emerging” issues would benefit from our attention, and the Group of Friends stands ready to act as a platform to advance them. …
… [O]n the issue of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS), the Group is of the view that further discussions are needed and it welcomes the fact that the issue will be examined in Geneva in May 2014, in the framework of the CCW [Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons]. The Group hopes that such discussions will also examine the issue with due consideration to the protection of civilians as part of a comprehensive debate including legal, military operational, technological and ethical perspectives. In time discussion should focus on the relevance of such systems to the protection of civilians, in particular in the context of IHL and with regard to the principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality. 
Italy, Statement by the permanent representative of Switzerland during a UN Security Council open debate on the protection of civilians in armed conflict made on behalf of the Group of Friends on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict, namely Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Norway, Portugal, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Uruguay, 12 February 2014, p. 2.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states:
In any attack, it is a duty to ensure that:
- The attack is directed against specific military targets;
- Weapon systems are used exclusively against military targets. 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 26.
The Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) is a second edition of the Manual on the Laws of War (1998).
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “Only military targets shall be attacked.”  
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 223.
[footnote in original omitted]
In July 2010, in a second update of its July 2009 report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 17 January 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “The principle of distinction is a core element of IDF standing orders. All IDF soldiers are instructed that strikes are to be directed only against legitimate military targets”. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update, 19 July 2010, § 58.
Israel’s Manual on the Rules of Warfare (2006) states: “One of the fundamental features of the rules of war is the distinction between military targets which it is permissible to attack and civilian targets which it is forbidden to attack.” 
Israel, Rules of Warfare on the Battlefield, Military Advocate-General’s Corps Command, IDF School of Military Law, Second Edition, 2006, p. 23.
In 2007, the Government of Israel stated in a diplomatic note:
Damage to property [caused by Hizbullah’s missile attacks] was also heavy: in total, some 12,000 civilian buildings were damaged, among them about 400 public buildings, while about 2,000 private homes and apartments were completely destroyed. In addition, 23 schools, four kindergartens and two community centers were damaged. During the conflict, hospitals were damaged in Nahariya, Haifa, Safed and Mizra. One of them – a psychiatric hospital – had to be evacuated.
Significant damage was also inflicted on infrastructure: sewage plants were damaged and, in some cases, sewage had to be released into the sea and atmosphere (by burning). Over 50 km of roads were damaged and 2 km² of cultivated forest, as well as 40 km² of natural woodland, were destroyed by fires caused by the missiles. All these clearly constitute civilian objects, which are protected from attack by international law, and whose destruction served no military purpose whatsoever. 
Israel, Israel’s War with Hizbullah. Preserving Humanitarian Principles While Combating Terrorism, Diplomatic Notes No. 1, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, April 2007, p. 5.
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “Any attack against civilian objectives shall be prohibited.” 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 223.
The report also stated: “Special precautions were to be taken when conducting military activities near U.N. or diplomatic premises”. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 224.
In July 2010, in a second update of its July 2009 report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “IDF orders and doctrine strictly prohibit the intentional targeting of … civilian objects”. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Gaza Operation Investigations: Second Update, 19 July 2010, § 58.
In 2009, in a report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009 (the “Gaza Operation”, also known as “Operation Cast Lead”), Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “The IDF’s operational plans and rules of engagement order special precautions with regard to military activity in proximity to … educational institutions”. 
Israel, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Operation in Gaza 27 December 2008–18 January 2009: Factual and Legal Aspects, 29 July 2009, § 259.