Practice Relating to Rule 7. The Principle of Distinction between Civilian Objects and Military Objectives
Section A. The principle of distinction
Spain’s LOAC Manual (1996) provides: “A fundamental element to be considered at all levels of planning, conduct and execution is the distinction between military objectives and non-military objectives.”
Spain’s LOAC Manual (2007) states that “a fundamental principle that must be taken into account at all levels of the planning, command and execution of military operations is the need to distinguish between military objectives and … civilian objects”.
Spain’s Royal Ordinances for the Armed Forces (2009) states: “In the conduct of any operation, [members of the armed forces] must take into account the principle of distinction … between civilian objects and military objectives in order to protect the civilian population.”
The Report on the Practice of Spain considers that the principle of distinction between military and non-military objectives is a fundamental principle which should be taken into consideration when planning, directing and executing a military attack.
In 2010, in its report to the UN General Assembly on the status of the 1977 Additional Protocols, Spain stated:
Article 85 entitled “Principle of Humanity”, contained in Title IV on Operations [of the Royal Ordinances for the Armed Forces (2009)] clearly embodies the spirit of the  Geneva Convention and its  Additional Protocols, as it provides that “[the] … conduct [of members of the armed forces] in any conflict or military operation must conform to the applicable rules of the international treaties on international humanitarian law to which Spain is a party”.
That is further developed in Chapter VI on Ethics in Operations, which goes into specific duties under international humanitarian law … the principle of the distinction … between civilian property and military targets.
Humanitarian law is based on a number of fundamental principles. They are apparent in current treaties and customary law and express the core of humanitarian law. They concern the principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution, the prohibition on causing superfluous damage and unnecessary suffering and the principle of non-discrimination as well as the so called Martens Clause.
[D]uring hostilities in Gaza last summer, civilians, including children, bore the brunt of the suffering … hospitals and schools were severely damaged or destroyed, including UN facilities. …
These facts … are utterly disturbing and raise serious concern about the observance of the rules of international humanitarian law, including the [principle] of distinction … and respect for international human rights law.