Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Section B. Attacks against military objectives
Germany’s Military Manual (1992) provides: “Attacks, i.e. any acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence …, shall be limited exclusively to military objectives.”
Germany’s Soldiers’ Manual (2006) states: “Combat operations may only be directed against the armed forces of the enemy and other military objectives, not however against the civilian population or civilian objects.”
In 2009, in reply to a Minor Interpellation in the Bundestag (Lower House of Parliament) titled “Investigation of serious violations of international humanitarian law in the recent Gaza war”, Germany’s Federal Government wrote:
17. Given that armed Palestinian groups and their legitimate military objectives are often placed in such populated areas, does the Federal Government consider that it can be justified under international law to subject these populated areas to massive fire even if it can be expected that a large number of injuries and deaths will be caused and will mostly affect the civilian population?
If so, how does the Federal Government justify that such a use of weapons complies with international law?
Under international humanitarian law, attacks must be limited to military objectives.