Practice Relating to Rule 54. Attacks against Objects Indispensable to the Survival of the Civilian Population
Section C. Attacks in case of military necessity
The Military Manual (1993) of the Netherlands provides that, for any party to the conflict defending its national territory, the destruction of or the fact of rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population “may be made … within such territory under its own control where required by imperative military necessity”. It adds that the flooding of parts of one’s own territory is not forbidden by the rules prohibiting the destruction of objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population.
The Military Manual (2005) of the Netherlands states:
There are individual exceptions to the prohibition [on attacking, destroying, removing or rendering useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population]: if the relevant objects are used solely for the subsistence of members of the armed forces or, if not as subsistence, then in direct support of the adversary’s military operations. Another exception exists for a party to a conflict which is defending its own territory. Given the vital importance of the defence of its own territory, a party may, if compelling military necessity dictates, destroy essential objects or make them unusable … Placing parts of one’s own territory under water (flooding) is not forbidden under these rules.